You might not be familiar with Spain’s Orbea brand, but they are one of the largest bicycle brands in Spain and France. In the past, their mountain bike lineup was focused on the lightweight 26" hardtails that are popular with Euro XC racers. In response to clamoring from their US distributor, as well as the worldwide growth of Enduro and Megavalanche style racing, Orbea has just launched their Rallon full-suspension line. The curvaceous hydroformed aluminum alloy frame of the Rallon piqued my interest. We just received one of these 150mm-travel rigs at DRHQ for a full-blown print review. In my size! Stay tuned.
Camelbak invented the hydration pack 20 years ago. Rather than resting on their laurel, the company continues to innovate and set the standards for all things hydration. Camelbak recently introduced the Antidote—their latest generation reservoir. The redesigned fill port has the widest opening on the market and the cap now opens and locks closed with a quick quarter-turn. An internal reservoir baffle reduces filled thickness by 24% compared to previous Omega reservoirs and also minimizes sloshing when the reservoir is in the pack. Integrated dryer arms fold out from behind the fill port, opening the reservoir for a complete air dry. The Antidote also features HydroGuard, which inhibits the growth of bacteria. The Big Bite Valve has a new Ergo HydroLock that’s designed to prevent accidental dislodging in locked position. Antidote will be included in new CamelBak packs starting in October. I scored an advance sample of their all-new Charge 450 hydration pack at PressCamp 2010, and have been digging it ever since (came with the Antidote reservoir). The Charge 450 is made of lightweight ripstop 70D nylon, holds 754 cu.in. and is pretty much a lightweight version of their popular Mule. A wide plastic tab built into the Antidote reservoir drops into a slot in the pack, improving stability as well as making it easier to load.
Race Face has always struck me as a company with a very "core" vibe. Based in British Columbia, a short drive from the infamous North Shore, Race Face certainly has great proving grounds for their components. Combine that with feedback from over 100 sponsored riders on their factory, international, national and grassroots teams, and you end up with gear that’s designed with the rider in mind. Their Atlas cranks are designed for bikes in the 4-6" travel range—a particularly hot category these days. The Atlas weights in at 955g with triple rings and BB. That’s certainly light enough for the climbs, and Race Face says the Atlas is strong enough for light freeride use on the was back down. Giv’r!
The BionX Intelligent Mobility System is an electric assist system for bicycles that is produced by EPS Inc., which is headquartered in Aurora, Canada. There are two basic types of electric power assisted bicycles: pedelecs and E-bikes. A pedelec only supplies power assistance when the pedals are turning, while an E-bike provides power on demand, typically via a throttle or switch. The BionX system combines both types of assist. It has a four-position pedelec setting that smoothly blends the electric assist with the rider’s pedaling power, and a thumb-lever that allows the rider to apply a burst of full electric assist on demand. The motor is built right into the system’s rear hub, making the BionX easy to install on most any bike design. I had the opportunity to ride a Trek mountain bike equipped with the BionX system on the roads and dirt trails around the PressCamp venue. I came away impressed with how seamlessly the BionX system blended my pedaling power with the electric assist, The #1 setting gave a subtle (but much appreciated) boost, while the #4 setting made me feel like I belonged in the pro peloton. We’ve just received a BionX sample for a more thorough evaluation, so keep your eyes peeled for a print review in Bicycle Times.
CatEye is the world’s leading manufacturer of cycle computers, lights, and reflectors. In 1964 they introduced the first flashing light for bicycles and in 2001 they offered the first LED headlight. CatEye owns three factories where they produce all of their products. Their 400+ candlepower LED Hybrid light caught my eye. An integrated solar cell charges a nickel-metal hydride battery for up to 6 hours of ride time and an alkaline back-up allows for a reserve 30 hours of run time. The design allows the user to choose between power sources. We have one in for testing, so look for a review in print in Bicycle Times.
Blue Competition Cycles of Norcross, GA was started six years ago by a group of world-class athletes looking to build they type of bikes that they wanted to ride. Their goal was to produce frames: "light weight for climbing, superior lateral stiffness and torsional rigidity for efficiency, vertical compliance for comfort and race inspired geometry for fit and handling." According to Blue, athletes riding Blue have won nearly every major road race in North America. They’ve won UCI cyclocross races, Xterra Championships and a 24 hour MTB US National Championship. To rattle off just a few accomplishments. With cyclocross season right around the corner, I thought I’d highlight their Norcross SP cyclocross frameset which is made from 7000 Series double butted Alloy tubing and retails for $600, with Aerus Composites Conquest carbon fiber cross fork. A complete build with SRAM Apex CX equipment can be had for $1,700.
I’ve always associated Specialized with high-tech bikes and well-thought-out components. But after attending PressCamp, I’ll also think of apparel when I think of Specialized. Their apparel folks were on hand to explain that Specialized applies their internal expertise in bicycle/human ergonomics to their apparel line (in addition to their bikes, helmets, and shoes). Makes sense, now that I think about it. I scored a sample of their loose-fit Trail Shorts, which fit me comfortably. They come with a detachable Nylon/Spandex mesh liner that’s proven to be breathable and cool. The Sport chamois, which despite appearing pretty basic, certainly provided padding in all the right places.