Welcome to Germany:
We're in Friedrichshafen, Germany this whole week to bring you coverage of the largest gathering of riders and bike manufacturers as they show off their 2014 product.
While last year seemed to be "The Year of the 27.5er," this year seems to be "The Year of the E-Bike." And yes, before you even ask, there are also plenty of 27.5-inch wheeled E-bikes cruising the hillsides this week. This little number from Felt is dubbed the Nine E-Series, and sports the latest and greatest motor from Bosch, the most popular E-Bike motor and battery system we've seen here at the show.
Where E-Bikes have fallen flat for the wrecking crew in the past is all in the execution. This new crop of E-Bikes in 2014 are clearly aiming to change that in 2014, though. These bikes are sporting cleaner lines with everything from smaller and lighter motors and batteries, to improved cable routing. It's true what they say, early adopters should always beware, because the second generation with technology is usually better.
During the outdoor demo portion of the show, Crank Brothers seems to be the pedal of choice. The Candy model is now available in so many colors it could make a bag of Skittles jealous.
Which bike are you going to ride?
So many bikes to ride... so little time.
A little celebrity on hand:
Mountain bike legend Hans Rey and former editor of Mountain Bike Action Zap Espinoza pose for a quick photo in the pits.
Yeti has seen wild success with their Suberbike family of bikes, which currently include the SB-95 29er and SB-66 26er. New to the party is the SB-75 which sports 27.5 inch wheels and 5 inches of travel. The bike also uses the same Switchlink rear suspension technology that the wrecking crew has tested several times in the past two years with great success. We can't wait to see one of these bikes grace our test fleet.
How about both?
The all-new Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS rear shock has a dedicated climbing-specific mode that adjusts not only compression damping, but also rebound damping, to suit rider needs when the trail points uphill. This is the shock that comes stock on several all-mountain and enduro-style bikes, including the Specialized Enduro. We already have a few miles on an early test shock, so keep your eyes peeled for a full review in the pages of Mountain Bike Action in the coming months.
That little guy? I wouldn't worry about that little guy:
The CS lever tucks neatly under the adjusters for compression and rebound tuning. The new shock sports all of the adjustments of the first generation, including both high- and low-speed controls for both rebound and compression. The CS lever is just a bonus.
MRP's big news:
MRP has been the driving force behind White Brothers' forks for many years. For 2014, MRP decided to blow through the fuzz, and simplify everything by dropping the White Bros. name and stick to MRP. The MRP facility is located in Grand Junction, Colorado, just a stone's throw from riding destinations like Fruita and Moab... We trust anybody with that kind of testing ground in their backyard.
The other big news from MRP:
These guys are getting into the rear shock market, and they're jumping in head first. The MRP guys have acquired the bicycle division from Elka suspension and are currently in the process of not only producing the current designs, but also taking the concepts to entirely new models.
Ok, Greg Minnaar is over in his home country of South Africa defending his World Championship title this week, but his riding kits of choice from O'Neal still look pretty awesome.
Azonic drops it like its hot:
The biggest news from Azonic this year is their new dropper post, which looks to be very close to production and should be available soon. The new post will sport 4 inches of travel and is expected to be much more affordable than the other dropper posts on the market.
Neat as a pin:
The small and neatly designed lever looks to be ergonomic with a simple clamp that mounts right next to the grip collar.
Super elegant design:
It's just a chain tool, but still, these little beauties from Birzman stopped us in our tracks. The unbelievable attention to detail and design with Birzman's tools is simply magnificent.
Light as air:
Kore is proud to introduce their new line of cross-country and marathon-style parts, dubbed Aerox. The parts include new carbon bars that measure 720 millimeters wide and use super-light, uni-directional carbon construction.
What the . . . ?
This was the question we found ourselves asking when faced with a barrage of these E-Bikes that blur the line between mountain bikes and lightweight motocross bikes. This one from HaiBike uses 27.5-inch wheels and has 5.9 inches of travel. The bike also sports a new Bosch battery and motor that runs with 36 volts and 250 watts.
Motorbike without the motor:
KTM makes some absolutely beautiful mountain bikes in addition to their motorbikes. It's simply a shame that they're not yet available in the U.S. This bike, called the Scarp 29, sports 4 inches of travel with 29-inch wheels and looks like a ton of fun to ride. It also looks like the perfect way to make your moto buddies jealous on a cross-training ride.
Keep tuned to the upcoming pages of Mountain Bike Action for the full report from Gemany. We've only scratched the surface of this show.