Radavist top 10 bikes of 2015


i love this site their picks are mostly esoteric and custom but definately  of the bike porn variety

 

2015 was an amazing year for the Radavist. Not only in terms of traffic, or stats, but in terms of content. We take pride in the site, the rides we record, products we feature and yes, the bicycles we document. This year was huge in terms of the places we traveled to and the people we met along the way. With people and places come Beautiful Bicycles and a lot of work!

Without rambling on too much, here’s a list of the Top 10 of 2015 ranked by traffic and social media chatter, from highest down…

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01 – the Speedvagen Urban Racer

This bike was the most controversial post on the Radavist this year… who thought people took riding bikes so seriously?

The Speedvagen Urban Racer. How can I even begin here? These bikes are… uh. Well, they’re kinda completely ridiculous. They’re not a traditional commuter bike, a cruiser, or a touring bike. They’re not meant to be loaded down with gear, or to be casually ridden around a park. Like a cafe racer of the bicycle world, these rigs are stripped down machines, meant to be ridden like a rocket… on 27.5 wheels and 43mm tires. Skids anyone?”

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02 – Benedict’s Romantical Clockwork Bikes Dirt Droop 29’r

2015 was the year of the UltraRomance and ya know what? The cycling industry needs more souls like Benedict.

“Benedict, aka Poppi, aka @UltraRomance is a wild one. One that cannot be tamed by modern ideologies, or technologies for that matter. His Clockwork Bikes frame is a time capsule of the old days of yore when men would gather or hunt for their food in the woods. Even when something appears to be modern, it’s executed in a way that harkens back to the early days of klunking. Disc brakes? He slices fresh mushrooms on them and truthfully, he only uses them to stop for a tanning session. The throwback version of the narrow wide chaingrings is just a “narrow narrow” ring. An outer “bash guard” ring pressed up against an inner ring with a spare “rabbit” personal massager holding it in place. Even his “marsh mud” tubeless setup is pulled from nature. Literally…”

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03 – the Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer with Gevenalle Shifting

Clearly we’re seeing a trend here with dirt-drop tourers. I wish I hadn’t sent this bad boy back to Washington!

“The Elephant Bikes NFE is alive. A beautifully-elegant specimen of the bicycle that dances with you on the climbs and lets you really lean into it while descending. While clearly its intent is to be a back country tourer, inspiring you to explore National Forests, we here in Austin, Texas have no such place nearby, so I took to exploring our local trails, State Parks and swimming holes.”

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04 – Paul’s Black Cat Monster Cross

Even I was amazed at how much traction this monster cross got in the muddy world of the cycling community. It’s easy to see why!

“When Paul Component owner Paul Price started to “make it big” he told himself that he wanted to order a bike each year from a NorCal frame builder. Retrotec, Rock Lobster, Sycip, etc, etc. At the time there were a handful of builders and for a few years he kept to his yearly deposit.

Then he got busy, the framebuilding industry grew and technology changed. For a few years he focused on the company and put his frame builder promise on hold. He then came back around to his promise and at the Sacramento NAHBS, picked up this Black Cat monster cross from Todd. Soon it became his staple bike. Like many custom frames, Paul had an idea for this bike that surrounded a specific component or part.”

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05 – Rusty n Dusty Rat Rod Titanium Firefly Disc All Road

This one broke my savings account, luckily I had disc brakes and my hands weren’t sore after the fact.

“Cycling is an experience that should continue to mature overtime. I’m weary of people who stand firm in their ideologies, rest on laurels and refuse to embrace the “new,” especially when it comes to riding bikes. Look, it’s not that hard to have fun. Opinions can change with experience, its normal. Embrace it.

You see, I knew I wanted a Firefly. I kind of felt like that brand and my own brand have grown together over the years. When Jamie, Tyler and Kevin started the company, it had a breath of energy, creativity and their final products all expressed experimentation. Those guys can make anyone a dream bike but deciding what kind of bike is a challenge. Part of my apprehension was not only where I felt like cycling’s technology was heading, but where my own riding would be taking me over the next few years.”

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06 – The Black Cat Bicycles Operation Thunder Monkey 29r MTB

Black Cat was the only builder to get two hits on the top 10 list. I wonder why? Oh yeah, his bikes are amazing!

“Todd from Black Cat Bicycles knows a thing or two about mountain bikes. Living in Santa Cruz provides a more than ideal testing ground for everything related to dirt. Over the years, he’s dialed in the geometry on his hardtails and recently, this process culminated in what he’s dubbed the Thunder Monkey.

A few months back, Todd emailed me asking if I wanted to review a production bike he was making. His description was right up my alley “slack and low 29r with a tight rear end.” Some time passed and this incredible frame showed up at Mellow Johnny’s to be built up with various SRAM and RockShox products. “

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07 – Tyler’s Icarus All-Road Disc

All-road, endurance road, whatever it is, just don’t call it a ‘cross bike.

“It’s not a cross bike, it’s a road bike with clearances for bigger tires. Sure it uses an ENVE disc cross fork, but the bottom bracket drop, chainstay length and angles are more in line with what many would categorize as a road bike. A road bike that likes to gobble up rugged and rutted roads.

The Bruce Gordon Rock n Road tires were the starting point for Ian at Icarus Frames to build Tyler his new all-road machine. He wanted hydro disc brakes and road gearing, which he may or may not swap out in the forthcoming months for a clutch and a wider range cassette. With a burnt orange paint and subtle Icarus branding on the downtube, Tyler’s bike has a confident stance without being overly gaudy. Keep it clean with the paint and get it nice and dirty… “

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08 – the Hunter Cycles Bushmaster

This bike was hands down my favorite to document of the year. Just look at it! But don’t get too close to the Hunter Cycles Bushmaster…

“Holy shit. Where do I even begin here? First off, we just saw where Rick Hunter builds his frames in Bonny Doon, just outside of Santa Cruz so we have context. Second off, the name of this bike is one of the deadliest vipers on Earth, the Bushmaster. These snakes are capable of multiple strikes in milliseconds and will deliver a fatal amount of venom without blinking an eye *snakes don’t have eyelids.*

Multiple strikes, multiple gears. No, wait. This is a singlespeed, right? Look again.”

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09 – Whitney’s 20/20 Cycle’s Kalakala

This bike, like its owner, has quite the story!

“Whitney’s 20/20 Cycle Kalakala is purpose built and can be configured to handle just about any bicycle tour you could imagine. Complete with DFL Stitchworks bags. This bike has never had a place to call home, Whitney has been riding it around the world for the last couple years and with that in mind I had no question about its ability to make it over the mountains I call home and to the Southern California High Desert that I love. Since photographing this bike it’s changed only ever so slightly with the addition of one more National Park badge to the fender, Joshua Tree.”

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Photo by Eric Baumann

10 – Imshi Cycles with a Di2 Road

New builders talking about their bikes and documenting them in an unprecedented manner. No wonder this Imshi Cycles shook the internet!

“Just over a year ago I began a multi-month frame building “class” with Bryan Hollingsworth (Royal H). He taught me the basics of brazing and then we set to work building myself a frame, one night a week kinda deal over at his shop. I had a jig already so I was able to do all the filing/fit up/lug carving at home, then bring stuff in to braze with Bryan. At the same time, I also had the privilege of having a friend in Mr. Nao Tomii, who showed me my way around a fillet. Between the two of these guys, I had some of the best guidance you can imagine for both lug/fillet frame construction. They taught me everything I know…”

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Honorable Non-Framebuilder Born Beasts

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01 – the Salsa Cycles Cutthroat Tour Divide Bike

“Salsa perfected what is arguably their best “all-road”, dirt-tourer: the Cutthroat.
This bike was an exercise in both engineering of materials and design features for the ever-increasing, high demand sport of “adventure touring and racing.” For starters, it’s a completely new carbon fiber frame design, with each tube having a unique profile. The rear triangle utilizes a Class 5 Vibration Reduction System like the Warbird. What does that mean? All you need to know is that supposedly the stays, in combination with the thru-axle creates a “spring like” feel on rough surfaces. The seat stays are long and narrow, while the chain stays are wide and flat. This gives compliance when needed.”

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02 – the Cannondale Slate Force CX1 All-Road Bike

“Since relocating to Los Angeles, a land with endless dirt in both the fireroad and track variety, my preferences have shifted a lot in terms of what I want a bike to take on. Capabilities are often grown in the industry piecemeal, then once and a while, a bike comes along that asks a question: what if?

The Cannondale Slate is a what if bike. What if 650b or 27.5″ wheels with a 42mm tire makes more sense for “all-road” riding? What if a damn Lefty shock with just the right amount of travel can instill confidence in new riders while offering an added fun bonus to experienced athletes?”

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03 – Ted King’s Cannondale SuperSix Six Six SRAM Mountain Magic Shifting Road Bike

Ted King is technically still a pro, until January 1st but yesterday the two of us took off on a ride into the ANF. The last time Ted got to experience Highway 2 was in a peloton during the Amgen Tour of California, which as Ted so gracefully put it, was very, very painful. Luckily pain wasn’t on our agenda yesterday. Instead, we took a super casual pedal up to Mount Wilson and back down to Mount Disappointment. ”

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04 – Erik’s Sparkle Abyss: the Custom Skid Sled

“If a beast were to crawl its way out of the Abyss, only to find itself mutated into a two-wheeled, human-powered machine, it might look like this thing. When I first saw it in person, with the Supernova light dangling from the stem, I was reminded of a Deep Sea Anglerfish. A fish that spends its life in complete darkness, only illuminating its path with a luminescent organ called the esca at the tip of a modified dorsal ray. Could that be this bike’s spirit animal?

Erik works at the big, bad S. He’s a designer for the AWOL and other excursion-oriented bicycles. He made this bike as a special project for his plans on taking on the SF-area’s Super Brevet Series. Initially, he wanted a bike that would fit a 45mm slick 700c tire, with a tighter geometry than the AWOL and a tapered headtube, mated to a carbon fork. He spec’d the main tubes from a stock AWOL with the geometry more like a cross bike, milled a head tube to spec and used a Secteur fork for its rack attachments. While the AWOL is a dedicated touring bike, this is closer to a light-tourer or randonneur. So, in short, this is a one-off custom, made in the USA bike that gave Erik the ability to test out a few concepts.”

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Thanks to all of the frame builders out there, putting out exceptional work and the customers who keep those men and women in business. Keep rockin, y’all!

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Theatre Thursday: Jeff jones talks plus bikes


The Jones Plus combines the latest technology with bicycle designs from throughout history and across the planet to make a bike that defies categories and opens ride possibilities like no other. In this new video Jeff Jones talks about some of the history and thinking that went into creating the Jones Plus.

Longranger bike: http://blog.jonesbikes.com/the-long-r…

Jones Plus- This is it: http://blog.jonesbikes.com/jones-plus…

Check out our website: jonesbikes.com

Another titanium maker you haven’t heard of (yet)


Matts-Titanium-Stinner-Hardtail-29r-21-1335x890from radavist

Titanium makes for a great off-road material. The tubing diameters are oftentimes larger than steel resulting in a ride quality that’s unprecedented. For Santa Barbara’s Stinner Frameworks, titanium was the next logical material to learn how to tig weld. Their shop now offers titanium road, touring, road and mountain bikes, with Matt’s being one of the recent beasts to be born.

Keeping the Tunnel 29’r frame raw, it’s offset by the razzle-painted Rock Shox Pike fork, Jones wheels, SRAM 1x drivetrain, internally-routed Reverb dropper and a Thomson cockpit.

Matt grew up riding MTBs in Topanga and Calabasas as a kid but hadn’t touched one in over 14 years. This bike will be the catalyst to get him back on the trails in Santa Barbara and hopefully he’ll be shredding with us when he comes home to Los Angeles over the holidays.

For those of you unfamiliar with Matt’s work, he’s the photographer for Stinner Frameworks and goes by the handle @HazardousTaste on Instagram. I highly suggest you give him a follow!

Tyre story – Hans Dampf Evo MTB Tyre – SnakeSkin


  
The new tyre

It has been a while since I reviewed anything so thought I would share my thoughts on something that just seems to work. I am not very swap and try when it comes to equipment I just like good stuff that works well, it might not have the very best of the best quality but has to do what it does well. Take my brake spec on my mtb – I asked Carl at the shop what brakes to get – he was steering me towards hope when I mentioned these should be fit and forget type brakes. Hence the same XTR brakes on my bike for 6 years and apart from 1 bleed and 3 different sets of pads nothing has been fiddled with.

But tyres have had their issues. I was on the misconceived idea that I was sort of racer having tried 3 sets of racing Ralph’s over the years. But grip was pretty sketchy in scotland doing typical riding and sidewall was a painfully thin learning curve having ripped two sidewalls open riding flinty tracks a half hour for the house.

I moved onto maxxis ardent tyres and I liked them a lot more. It was only an issue with a bad thorn and dried up sealant after 2 years of no maintenance that made me think I should take more care. I refilled the sealant and pumped the tyre up hard (60psi) to seal the edges. Max recommendation is 45psi for the tyre width and rim but seriously – I had tea to make and drink when BANG the tyre had popped off the bead was stretched and sealant was on the wall.

So I started shopping for a new front tyre and I decided to go wider and bought a trail star hans dampf 29×2.35 

Fitted pretty easily on stans rim and sealed very easily. 

On the trail the HD is a step up from the ardent – incredible feedback from the front and stays planted on the trail. When railing through berms the slightly worn ardent on the back would start washing out before the front. As for trail speed I didn’t notice a huge drag factor and let’s face it the weakest link in a race setup would be still be me.

  
Was thinking about replacing the worn ardent on the rear in a while and whilst a HD is tempting I have read that it rips easier there and most people seem to suggest a nobby Nick is a good match. More on that later.

Genesis Longitude 2016 is a 27.5plus model


Could be best choice for bikepacking ….

Longitude was the surprise trump card in the pack for last years’ range. As a brand new model (alongside the Tour de Fer) we were cautious of how well they’d be received and undercooked the numbers, selling out too early in the season. Apologies for those we disappointed. What it did show was that there was a healthy number of you out there looking for that versatile bike to take you places –an ethos we’ve tried not to stray too far from with the new 2016 model. Let’s take a look at the who, how, what and why with the new, 2016 model…

The 2016 complete bike will retail for £1199.99srp

Whilst the frameset option in ‘Pepper Yellow’ will retail for £499.99srp

Changes have been occurring at a rate of knots in the mtb sector. When we first drew up the Longitude nearly two years ago now we designed it as a standard 29er (albeit with 2.4” tyres on 35mm rims) with a long wheelbase and big clearances. The tweaks to make it 29+ compatible happened right at the eleventh hour, just before we pushed the button on production – we had pretty much the prerequisite clearances already and it didn’t need much modification to make it 29+ ready (slightly longer chainstays, etc). We figured there’d be nothing to lose in adding a further string to its already quite versatile bow. Now, you have to remember this was at a time when the concept of 29+ still had that new car smell and tyre options were few and far between (Vee Tire Co’s Traxx Fatty and Surly’s Knard were pretty much the only early options) and 27.5+ was only be talked about in hushed whispers at trade shows, by a few progressive/bonkers (delete as applicable) folk. Fast forward 6 months and with 27.5+ now having firmly arrived on the scene we had some difficult decisions to make with the Longitude…

27.5+ vs. 29+. There’s only one way to settle this…

…analysis and debate. A standard 29×2.3” on an average rim measures up about approx. 740mm in OD. A 29+ on accompanying 40+mm rim measures up about 780mm – a difference of well over an inch. This difference in tyre OD has a dramatic effect on trail (more on trail here – http://www.pinkbike.com/news/To-The-Point-Rake-and-Trail.html). As a manufacturer we’re then left in limbo as to whether we choose a headtube angle and fork offset to cater for the standard 29” wheel/tyre combo (at the detriment to 29+ handling), go in favour of the 29+ setup (vice versa – at the detriment of std 29” handling, or pick a middle ground that may compromise both that could potentially leave us with a bad handling bike with either setup. The original Longitude was designed around the as-specced 29×2.4” Conti X-Kings on the 35mm Alex Supra35 rims. With Vee Tire Co.’s Traxx Fatty’s fitted we felt the bike lost a lot of its agility; fine in a straight line, especially when pointed downhill but a little lethargic, slow to accelerate and cumbersome in responding to steering inputs. Enter stage left 27.5+… With an OD much, much closer to that of a standard 29×2.3” you can truly have a bike with a geometry that handles well with both setups, without any compromises (i.e. much more compatible). Not only that, you get the same air volume as the 29+ setup but in a lighter (both rim, tyre and tube), faster accelerating, more manoeuvrable package that that a wider range of folk, especially at the smaller end of the size spectrum, can comfortably fit on without A) needing a step ladder to get on and B) still have a decent amount of standover clearance. The case for 29+ was not looking all that strong, effectively trumped by the new kid on the block. For those wanting to delve deeper on the debate and differences between the two plus wheel sizes, check out the links below…

http://www.bikemag.com/gear/mean-27-plus-29-plus-bikes/

http://forums.mtbr.com/27-5-29/27-5-vs-29-a-960829.html

Hubs, Axles & Boost

So, we’ve decided to go for 27.5+ for all of the above reasons. The simple option would be to add Boost 110/148 thru-axles at either end, right? Well, yes and no. Whilst it would give us the required wider chainline and accompanying chain/tyre clearance, pretty much the only hub options (I’ve seen) are thru-axle (at the moment). Whilst this isn’t such an issue on the front, out back we’ve got our nicecly versatile ‘do-it-all’ horizontal dropout with mech hanger (also with added Rohloff OEM2 plate mounting point for MY16), going to Boost148 at the back would’ve meant the end of that, save going to a complicated and not mention expensive sliding dropout system (or EBB). Not something we really wanted to do. So, we decided to stick with the 135mm QR rear primarily for ultimate drivetrain versatility (conventional geared, singlespeed, Alfine and now Rohloff also) but, as ever things weren’t quite that simple…

We already had weight saving cut-outs on the original waterjet cut dropouts so it wasn’t too much work to re-configure them and add-in the required slot on the non-driveside dropout to shadow the path of the axle on the horiztonal dropout. The 6mm thick plate should be plenty to resist the torque of the Rofloff hub. 

Instead of mounting to the rear/lower disc brake tab the, OEM2 axle plate is turned anti-clockwise approx. 90 degrees and the bolt mounts through the tab, sliding with the wheel axle on the horizontal dropout 

Clearance Balancing Act

So, sticking with 135mm QR for universal drivetrain options alongside the 27.5+ wheel/tyre combo, the next tricky point was gearing. With us pitching the Longitude as our backpacking/offroad tourer I really wanted to keep the nice wide-range the 40-30-22T triple provided. Alas, a 50mm chainline triple doesn’t play nicely with a full-blown 27.5×3.0” setup, least of all on a 135mm rear spacing. The solution was to opt for WTB’s excellent and slightly smaller Trailblazer 27.5×2.8” mounted onto Jalco’s DD38 rims (38mm ext./33mm int.). The resultant tyre outer diameter measures up about 10mm shorter than a std 29×2.3”, so whilst a little smaller, still a much better match than 29” vs 29+, but crucially measures up at about XX” width, giving just enough chain clearance when in the granny at the front and largest sprocket at the back. And, yes, we realise that one the one hand we’ve wholeheartedly adopted new standards and, on the other, gone well out of our way to avoid them! For those wanting to go the full monty with a custom-build frameset option and 27.5 x 3.0/3.25″ tyres, you’ll be limited to 1x drivetrain setup or offset 2x options depending on rim/tyre combo used. Fork-wise we built-in plenty of clearance – you’ll be hard pushed to push the limits there!

Original spec was for the bike to use CST’s new BFT 27.5×3.0”. Chain clearance was (ahem) a little tight so we opted to swap to WTB’s slightly smaller Trailblazer 27.5×2.8” for a little extra breathing room. The upshot of which is that the Longitude now rolls with TCS tubeless ready tyres. 

The WTB’s on Jalco’s DD38 rim provide just enough chain/tyre clearance with the chain in the granny ring at the front and top sprocket at the back. No need for a Boost148 rear with this tyre/rim combo. A nice balance of width (33mm int./38mm ext.) and weight (555g), especially for a pinned rim, the Jalco’s are also tubeless-ready too, meaning valve, sealant and tape are all you need for an easy, affordable tubeless conversion. 

Production-spec with WTB’s 27.5×2.8″ Trailblazer TCS Light (Fast Rolling) fitted to the Jalco DD38 rims. We’ll update with studio images as soon as they’re through.

The Trailblazer could possibly be the ideal tyre for the Longitude with its’ fast, almost continuous raised, flat centre tread for low-rolling resistance and straight-line speed and meaty shoulder block tread for bite in loose corners and off-camber trails. Best of both worlds. 

100mm Suspension Corrected Fork

The new fork measures 483mm axle-crown with 51mm offset – i.e. suspension corrected for a 100mm 29”/27.5+ fork. Whilst the non-suspension corrected steel fork handled great, it was somewhat limiting to those tinkers that like to keep adding-on and upgrading parts. The new fork is aluminium, and for a few good reasons… A longer fork obviously needs to be stronger to help resist the increased leverage and forces. Stonger usually equals heavier (either increased fork blade diameter, wall thickness, or both) and with the newly introduced ISO test standard giving forks a particularly hard time of it at the moment, it was looking like they’d need to be even heavier than previously imagined to pass with steel. With aluminium we’ve been able to get the longer fork, add a tapered steerer, pass ISO and still drop weight vs. the original steel fork. But an aluminium fork rides harsh, right? Yes, but with the voluminous 2.8” Trailblazer upfront and the associated lower air pressures, there’s plenty of pneumatic cush to take the sting out of the trail. That’s the simple logic behind our choice for going with an aluminium fork – an ISO passable steel fork at these lengths would’ve been too heavy and detrimental to the way the bike rode – loosing that natural steel spring with stiff and heavy fork blades. As ever, it’s adnorned with triple bosses on each leg and raised front rack eyelets which are designed to clear the 27.5+ tyres.

Steel purists may bulk at the sight of the beefy bladed Aluminium fork adnorning the front of the 2016 Longitude but, as ever, it’s a carefully considered decsion with sound thinking behind it. 

Boost me

Where Boost did make sense was upfront – the wider 110x15mm spacing not only provides the necessary crown clearance for the 27.5+ setup should you want to go down the suspension fork route (the idea being 100% upgrade-friendly, without needing to buy a new front hub/wheel if adding a suspension fork at a later date), it also makes for a stiffer, stronger, wheel, improving tracking, handing and longevity, especially with the larger forces that come with the contact patch of the 27.5+ tyres.

Boost 110×15 front thru-axle for painless suspension fork future upgrade potential

Free Parable Design Gorilla Cages
We’re bundling the Longitude this year with x2pcs of the excellent Free Parable Design Gorilla Cage. They attached to each fork leg via a traditional triple bottle boss and clever plastic cleats. Easy on, easyoff, they’ll carry up to 1.5kg on each leg of whatever you can fit into their highly adjustable cradle. We have it on good authority that a bottle of wine is a great fit! Don’t just take our word for it, check out the in-depth review here from bearbonesbikepacking.co.uk.

Our thanks on these go to Miles @cyclemiles.co.uk who was kind enough to not only hook us up some samples to try (he’s the UK distro for these great products), put us in contact with Free Parable and even helped us negotiate on price. Top man!

Highly adaptable, the Free Parable Design cages will fit 1.5/2L PET bottles, bottle of wine/whiskey, a dry bag full of kit, roll mat, or whatever you can fit in it’s highly adjustable velcro webbing.

Geometry

In moving from a 29″/29+ lto a 29″/27.5+ layout we’ve been able to reign-in the chainstays somewhat (they now no longer need to accomaodate such a larger diamter tyre/wheel combo). As such the rear chainstays shrink from 458mm to 450mm. Still not super short by any stretch but a little nippier and more responsive than last years’ version, yet still plenty long enough to make it a stable, comfortable ride that climbs like a mountain goat. Stack heights are similar to last year – what we’ve lost in the headtube, we’ve gained in fork length as are reach measurements. Headangle is steepened by a degree to 69deg. No dropped toptube on here – what we give away in standover clearance we gain in front triangle space (with a view of mounting a frame bag and maximising space).

Other Features

New Shimano side-schwing frotn deraileur essentially moves allo of the bulk of the shift mechanism from the back (where it often compromised tyre clearance depending on chainstay length) to the side and right out of the way. Another bonus is the 50% reduction in shift force required. 

We’ve lost the seattube bottle boss, dropped the downtube bottle bosses (which now also acts as front derailleur and rear brake routing points) and also added a stealth dropper post port (the complete bike comes with a 31.6-27.2mm shim and 27.2mm seatpost for increased conmfort). We’ve also kept a traditional seattube cable stop also for those wanting to shift via a top-swing FD. 

It still has x2 bottle bosses – we’ve added some to the underside of the downtube