Australian Start-Up Norman launches sustainable mountain biking apparel line
Snowy Mountains-born clothing brand, Norman, is launching its first line of sustainably and ethically produced mountain biking apparel, combining support and utility with a modern, minimalist aesthetic. Norman’s debut collection synergises function and form – bringing a new, ethically made offering to Australia’s fast-growing mountain biking community
Identifying a gap in the market for ethically produced, stylish mountain biking clothing, Norman co-founder Jacinta Timmins and her business partner Charlie Timmins established the brand with the express mission of creating durable clothing that helps male and female mountain bikers feel comfortable on and off the bike. Through Norman’s high-function range, that sense of comfort comes not only from technical designs and lightweight fabrics, but from refined styles and a commitment to sustainability that puts riders’ consciences at ease too.
With the comfort of female riders top of mind, Jacinta wanted to develop options that made people proud to wear their gear on and off the trail. The desire to create more stylish yet technically high-function options also opened the door for Norman to tackle the issue of sustainability, which has a traditionally poor track record in the mountain biking community.
The range of tech tees, long sleeve jerseys, and shorts are hand-made in Australia from ethically sourced fabrics, including a high-function poly/nylon blend made from recycled ocean plastic from Repreve. On choosing to take a sustainable approach to sourcing and production.
“It was a no-brainer to use exclusively sustainable and ethically manufactured materials, as well as local makers. What we’ve come up with is high-quality, environmentally friendly, technical riding gear that you can wear riding and then to the pub.” Jacinta Timmins
Norman’s commitment to preserving the planet also extends to a carbon-neutral approach, through their partnership with Keep It Cool, a Snowy Mountains-based not-for-profit that works to offset carbon production through community tree-planting initiatives. In an effort to promote mindful consumption and reduce industry waste, Norman also offers repair services on all their products.
“Norman was founded on the principle that function, style, and environmental consciousness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We wanted to bring riders the option; an opportunity to buy gear that was both technically effective and, most importantly, green,” Jacinta Timmins
Comprised of Tech Tees, Long Sleeve Jerseys, and Shorts in a range of organic, dark, and muted tones, the products in Norman’s debut range retail between $89.95 and $139.95
Flat pedals. We have all used them at some stage. Some go on to clip in, leaving flat pedals as a distant memory- for others, that’s just crazy talk! Everyone seems to have their opinion on which pedal is best and why- how many pins, pin placement, the shape of the pedal, concave Vs convex- the list goes on! Slimline, low profile, or the biggest slab of aluminum you can attach to a crank arm?
We have tried many, many sets of flat pedals over the years- so how do these new kids on the block stack up?
The Loam Pedal by PNW Components is focused on delivering the perfect balance of grip and features a low profile and unobtrusive bearings that stay out of the way, as well as a slightly concave shape that allows shoes to settle in and remain planted and comfortable for long rides.
The Loam was PNWs first foray into flat pedals but has since released the ‘Range‘, a composite version of the Loam alloy pedal. The pedals look really sharp in our opinion. Nice and slim with a tapered profile to the outside edge. They have a unique design that some have already nicknamed the cake mixer.
11 replaceable steel pins per pedal, with a noticeable cluster on the front and rear edges of the pedal- central pins are noticeably absent, more on this later. We found the pins to be incredibly grippy- perhaps due to being thinner than the average alloy ‘stud’ style of pin.
They have a sharp square cut that bites into the shoe. Apparently, these pins are custom-made for the Loam. Just enough grip to feel planted in sketchy terrain, but not so much that you can’t reposition your feet.
From the pins to pedal body the Loam Pedal gives you enough of a concave shape to let your shoe settle into it without stressing your feet on long rides.
Low-profile bearing sizes and locations eliminate hot spots so you can ride as long, or as short, as you want.
Like most of the PNW products we have reviewed, the build quality is great.
Slim, sleek-looking, low profile pedal
3 colours: Blackout, Nickelback( Silver) & Fruit Snacks (Purple)
Fully rebuildable and serviceable with a 5mm Allen key.
Forged and CNC’d 6061 Aluminum
Sealed Cartridge and Roller Bearings- no bushings.
445 Grams Per Pair
22 Replaceable Steel Pins Per Pedal- fixed height
Platform Size of 105mm W x 115mm L
We must mention PNW’s commitment to environmentally friendly packaging- a simple recycled cardboard box.
On The Trails
At T&S we like to go into a review without letting any outside opinions influence the test. We fit up the product and hit the trails, as we did this time around. The first couple of rides left us scratching our heads.
The pedals looked amazing and had pins in all the right places, but we felt like we weren’t getting the grip the pedals should clearly offer. A few rides later we had almost accepted that perhaps the pedals just allowed a bit more movement than other, more locked-in styles.
After some back and forth banter with a few of the regular riding crew, we wondered if perhaps the shoe wasn’t playing nicely with the pedal. The initial shoe we opted for has a hard rubber compound and a very stiff platform- perhaps it wasn’t the ideal match for the pedal??
PNW has clearly tried to differentiate this pedal from the hordes of other flat, chunky, uber grip pedals by focusing on pedal feel and comfort. Now, that is all good and well… but we’re never going to be comfortable on a flat pedal if we are constantly worrying about the shoe/pedal interface. We ended up switching shoes, and everything changed.
We just returned from 3 days of alpine shredding in Thredbo. If there was ever going to be a problem with hotspots, comfort, or grip, it will become apparent quick smart with thousands of feet of chairlift-assisted alpine riding. We are pleased to report that our opinion changed completely with the shoe change. A thicker, softer sole sunk into the pins and was nicely supported in the centre of the pedal.
We were never short of grip and were able to shift foot position and re-position easily. The best thing we can say is that the pedal/shoe interface faded into the background allowing us to get on with some of Australia’s best riding. A point definitely worth mentioning is how fresh our feet felt after a long day on the mountain “Fresh Feet” is one of PNW’s key marketing taglines, and after our experience, we’d have to agree with them. So it begs the question, do you need to go full concave?
How much of that is down to the shoe or the pedal is hard to say, call it an observation, but correct shoe choice i,e a soft sole, is something we would recommend you consider when purchasing the Loam pedals. The softer the better.
The pedals copped plenty of alpine granite impacts and sadly lost some of their ‘blackout’ finish but are still running perfectly. No bent pins or damage to the pedals. They are a burly set of pedals and can withstand plenty of hard hits. Anecdotally, we have never had more people comment on a set of pedals before- left lines, lunch stops- They seemed to be a real talking point.
One final point to mention is the bearings- these things spin like crazy. Some, more gravity-focused, pedals we’ve used are almost damped in the way they spin. The Loam pedals spin very smoothly which can be a pro or a con, depending on personal preferences. The Loam pedal is also fully rebuildable and a service kit is available if you need to do a full rebuild.
So final thoughts on the PNW Components Loam pedals. We love them! That certainly wasn’t the case initially, but upon switching shoes they are our firm favourite right now. Since reviewing the pedal we have read the specs and some of the other opinions out there and firmly believe it comes down to the shoe being used. There is a lot of discussion about the Convex nature of the pedal, but the pins have been designed to ‘level out’ the foot position. With the right shoe, it’s set and forget.
Price / Where to Buy?
PNW Components Loam Aluminium Pedals $149.95
If you’re looking for a similar feel but something less pricey, take a look at PNW Components Range pedal which is a composite brother to the Loam. Check out our First Look post and some comparison images of the Loam and Range pedal, below.
Can be purchased at MTB Directand other good online retailers or ask at your local bike shop.
Pirelli Scorpion Enduro S and Enduro R Tyres – Review
What do you look for in a tyre? Grip, lack of rolling resistance, multi-condition suitability? When considering what an Enduro bike sees these days, it’s more important than ever to consider the details of your rubber. After all, it’s your main contact point with the terrain you’ll be riding, and getting this choice right can mean the difference between being so amped you can’t sleep or having an unexpected dirt nap.
Enter the Pirelli Scorpion range of tyres, specifically on review here their front and rear enduro specific set, handily named the Enduro S (Soft) and Enduro R (Rear), just in case you forget what they’re aiming for.
The Pirelli company will be familiar to just about anyone who owns or has owned, any kind of motor vehicle, with the Scorpion moniker synonymous with the performance end of their rubber ranges. Entering the ever-burgeoning MTB market seemed inevitable and they’ve launched a varied range of products for differing areas of MTB styles.
On the surface, these tyres suggest a true all-rounder combination of grip and speed. Bringing over 100 years of experience in motorised tyres to the fore, the SmartGRIP principles are to combine mechanical & chemical elements or grip to allow for maximum traction.
The mechanical grip principles are evident in the knob patterns, with the S (front specific) tyre, while not as overtly chunky as some other front specific models, promising grip in a variety of conditions and The R (rear-specific) displaying a fast pattern with good side knobs for grip on the lean.
The chemical aspect isn’t immediately visible, but Pirelli has opted for a single compound throughout the whole tyre to give an even wear profile and predictability as that occurs.
The Hardwall construction offers a solid level of puncture protection both in the tread and on the bead, with a reinforced area right in the dreaded “snake bite” zone. That extra reinforcement doubles to provide significant sidewall support at lower pressures.
Size: 27.5 and 29 options
Casing: 60 TPI HardWALL
Rim width? The 2.6″ tyres are best paired with rims with an internal width of 30mm and greater, but the 2.4″ would pair well with anything from around 23mm to 30mm.
Weight: Pirelli Scorpion Enduro Soft Terrain Tyre
Suggested terrain use: This is a soft-terrain tyre so it will excel in deep loam, dust, sand, and mud.
29″ x 2.4: 1120g
29″ x 2.6: 1180g
27.5″ x 2.4: 980g
27.5″ x 2.6: 1150g
Weight: Pirelli Scorpion Enduro Rear Specific Tyre
Suggested terrain use: This is a mixed-terrain tyre so it should be a great all-rounder.
29″ x 2.4: 980g
29″ x 2.6: 1140g
27.5″ x 2.4: 940g
27.5″ x 2.6: 1090g
On The Trails
It’s always an interesting concept, the idea of reviewing a new entry into the MTB space, especially in such an important area of tyres. Mountain bikers can be picky folk, religiously sticking to a product once they’ve found it. This is entirely understandable given the importance of grip both on the objective, but also subjective aspects of riding your bike. Nothing is worse than worrying whether a tyre will grip before you even get onto the trails and comparisons are inevitably made on inspection and at all stages of the ride.
Mounting these tyres up wasn’t as breezy as some, but wasn’t a heinous knuckle-banging, thumb-destroying delve into doubting you’ve ever managed to mount a tyre in your life as those of us who remember wire bead DH tyres on skinny rims. They didn’t inflate straight up with a floor pump, but a quick blast with the Airshot got both tyres mounted without any more faffing around.
At 1070g for the S and 1084g for the R tyres, they’re both smack bang on the published weights but also, most importantly, right in the ballpark for Enduro tyres. That’s one point checked off the mental list, as tyres trying to hit a weight target always worry me – I prefer a bit of extra heft in the name of reliability.
The first ride around northern Sydney’s “flow” trails (what most people would call techy jank) was definitely a lesson in trusting the feel over what the mind suggests. Coming from a much more heftily treaded front tyre, my brain wanted to find some lack of grip in the front due to the smaller tread. Once I stopped looking at the tyre and just rode it, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of grip on offer.
The Hardwall construction did mean playing with pressures to find just the right balance. Starting at the usual 20psi front and 24psi rear felt a bit too stiff, lacking the compliance I was used to. Dropping each by 2psi managed to hit the Goldilocks zone for the riding being done. As time has gone on and the tyres have relaxed a bit, those pressures have been bumped back up to 20/24 to keep the compliance and grip in check without feeling too much wallow. It’s worth playing with this pressure depending on the terrain to find the right point for each ride.
The front tyre will grip in just about anything other than deep sand or mud, with a predictable transition between the centre band and the shoulder knobs. There wasn’t any blank space in the grip which led to an easy commitment to leaning it into the corners and knowing the grip would be there. With that said, having a slightly wider 2.5” profile would be ideal and only increase the grip performance.
The rear tyre rolls very fast and has great climbing and braking traction, surprisingly even in rather sloppy or sandy conditions. This was a big surprise as visually, I had expected it to pack up quickly. The rear matches the front in the easy and predictable transition to the shoulders, making for a combination that earns trust and asks you to lean the bike. I’ve had no noticeable rim strikes and no punctures of any kind, the Hardwall construction proving its worth.
The months I’ve been using these tyres have seen a mix of riding, from slow and steep tech to fast chunk, fast flow and everything in between. I even had the chance to ride these well outside of their target range, entering a 30km XC race with this rubber combo equipped.
The fast-rolling nature is evident on the flats and climbs, while the strong grip has shone on all of the descending, from loose and slightly sandy, to hard-packed or rocky slabs. Of course, they’re not as fast-rolling as a pure XC tread, but they also don’t provide any noticeable drag. A perfect combination.
Most recently they’ve even shown their prowess in damp and soggy conditions, with the local test track* currently being a mix of rocky, sandy ridgeline combined with puddle strewn descents. Both tyres clear mud quickly and easily, letting the tread do its job when I’ve needed it most.
If you’re looking for a strong, reliable, fast-rolling all-rounder of an Enduro tyre combination, it’s hard to go past the Scorpion Enduro S & R Combo. Solid grip, with excellent sidewall support and a well-thought-out tread pattern, will ensure you’re upright and awake, rather than dirt-napping.
Price / Where To Buy
Pirelli Scorpion Enduro Rear Specific Tyre $94.95 – $120.00 AUD
Pirelli Scorpion Enduro Soft Terrain Tyre $94.95 – $120.00 AUD
Ask at your local bike shop, or any good online retailer.
I was an early adopter of Strava and it broke me*. Long story, short: I used to be a purist when it came to my rides. Riding was just about riding, so I had no interest in how far I’d gone or for how long (I didn’t even wear a watch). I rode what I rode and finished when I’d had enough. My metric for determining the quality of a ride was purely subjective, and the only record I had was my memories.
And then I downloaded Strava. My intention was great: I just wanted to know whether I was getting faster on a particular trail, without having to go through the hassle of using a stopwatch. It started off OK, but I knew things had gone wrong when I had a meltdown after a ride because Strava had crapped out halfway through and hadn’t recorded my “fast” descent.
All of a sudden, I felt invalidated – like my ride had ceased to exist. Sure, I still had all my memories of the ride but, because I didn’t have an objective, external validation of my riding, it didn’t feel like they mattered. Worse, my descending had started to take on a darker side. I was pushing for the sake of shaving off a few meaningless seconds, putting myself (and potentially others) at risk, and getting frustrated at anything that got in the way of me going faster; that tree down over the trail: disaster. My friend getting a flat: what a traitorous bastard.
I’m a little better these days (or at least I tell myself I am). Mostly, I look at Strava after a ride to see if anything has changed, and it tracks my distance for component maintenance. I promise myself that I’m definitely not thinking about Strava times whilst I’m descending, but a small voice always pipes up when there’s an obstacle on the trail, or when I get a mechanical. For all the wonders of its technology, I think Strava has permanently changed me, and I’m genuinely nostalgic for the times that I took my watch off before a ride.
Within all the Strava-wrought changes, I suppose I’m most concerned about the whole distraction trope. Because it’s not just a Strava thing, it’s a modern-world thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-tech (for example, I personally think that e-bikes are the best thing that’s ever happened to mountain biking), but I am concerned that it’s getting increasingly difficult for many of us to enjoy a “pure” activity (i.e., activities that take us into nature, like mountain biking, running, or bushwalking) without needing a device to record our stats for us.
As an exercise psychologist, I’m fascinated by the large body of research investigating the physical and psychological benefits of outdoor exercise. To (massively) summarise: exercising outside is better for us than exercising indoors, and that effect improves when we exercise in green spaces, and is even better under the canopy (i.e., trees). The benefits include reduced blood pressure, increased focus, reduced anxiety and depression, and increased optimism.
So, on the one hand, researchers agree that outdoor exercise is great. On the other hand, there is a strong body of evidence that large amounts of screen time is bad for us, resulting in lowered focus and attention, increased stress and anxiety, and reduced optimism and motivation.
To date, I’ve not found any research on the (potentially negative) effects of device usage on the psychological benefits of outdoor exercise. I’m interested to know whether taking our devices with us to record our outdoor activities (and being distracted by those devices as we constantly check on or think about those stats) negates the beneficial effects of being out there in the first place.
My gut feeling (and, yes, that’s a crap way of doing science) is that the distraction of knowing you’re being tracked (and being invested in that tracking because you want the dopamine rush of knowing you’re faster than other people) reduces your investment in the experience. We’re less likely to enjoy the view, appreciate our companions, or enjoy the moment, in the presence of that external pressure.
Then there’s the other (massively important) aspect of mountain biking: social interaction and community. Most of us don’t really enjoy riding by ourselves and deliberately seek out other people to ride with (there’s heaps of evidence that this makes exercising more psychologically rewarding too), and many of us have made powerful friendships from these connections. As well, as mountain bikers, we can feel connected to a wider community by helping each other to enjoy the thing we love (e.g., building trails, advocating for trail access, or just helping out someone who’s had a flat).
Although mountain biking can make us better community members, I think that apps like Strava can make it more about us: more selfish (“nope, I’m not stopping to help that person because I’ll miss out on a PB”), more competitive (“crap, I’ve lost my KOM/QOM – screw them”), and less cooperative (“that new person on the ride is slowing me down – no way I’m going to take time to help them learn to be a better rider”).
Obviously, if you’re a racer, training for racing, or riding exclusively to improve your fitness, using apps like Strava will be useful. They will help you determine whether you’re getting faster, and let you figure out where you can make up time. For the rest of us, they’re at best a form of self-congratulation and, at worst, a distraction that brings out our dark side.
I propose a behavioural experiment:
What if we all tried three months of riding without a tracking app? (But take your phone as a safety backup.) I’d love to hear what you experience by leaving these apps behind. Does switching them off help you switch on to your surroundings? Does it make you more connected to the people around you and the trail underneath you? Does it result in more satisfaction post-ride? Do you form more worthwhile memories? Are you less anxious overall? If you’re a regular reader here – please come back with your thoughts and comments if you decide to give it a go. For my part, I plan to do the same, and I’ll report back with my experience in the near future.
*Read about how Strava broke me in my Flow article, here.
Houston we have … no problems here. The all-new Range Pedal is the perfect blend of comfort, grip, affordability, and colorful pops for the best no-compromise flat pedal this side of the Mississippi. And the other side, too.
The new Range Pedals are a no-compromise flat pedal that blends comfort, grip, affordability, and colorful pops. Based on the Loam Pedal’s platform, the Range Pedal features 22 replaceable steel pins per pedal and a comfortable platform shape for all-day riding. For easy maintenance, the Range Pedals are also fully rebuildable with a PNW Rebuild Kit.
Designed for maximum comfort and maximum clearance, this flat pedal will cradle your feet in the least creepy way possible while keeping all those trail obstacles outta your business.
Keep the weight down while keeping some dollars in your pocket with PNW’s sweet, sweet composite blend.
The team at PNW ate a lot of skittles while they were developing these. But don’t worry. If you’re the low-key emo type, they’ve also got your back with Blackout Black or the classic Cement Grey.
• Weight: 390g per pair • Pedal Body Material: Glass fiber-reinforced nylon composite • Axle: Chromoly steel • Bearings: Cartridge bearing, roller bearing, and inboard bushing • Pins: 22 steel pins and nuts per pedal • Platform Size: 115x108mm
PNW Components announced their new Spring ‘22 Women’s Apparel line, featuring a women’s-specific jersey and shorts. Driven by the desire to offer all riders functional and durable gear, PNW Components has launched their first women’s specific trail apparel.
Building on PNW’s apparel launch in 2021, which featured unisex and men’s-specific trailwear, PNW has now entered the women’s-specific category with the Ozone Trail Jersey and Shuttle Short. Developed by women, the new line offers high-performance garments in a comfortable, functional, and affordable package.
“We’re so excited to contribute to the rapidly-growing women’s MTB space. These pieces are our answer to what we’ve been missing in our trail gear.” – Emily Stevenson Kerson, Co-Founder, PNW Components.
The Ozone Trail Jersey
A powerhouse blend of 80% polyester and 20% wool makes this jersey exceptionally soft, breathable, moisture-wicking, and anti-bacterial. It’s also bluesign® approved, guaranteeing the fabric meets the demanding requirements of the highest environmental standards for the textile industry. MSRP $49 USD
The Shuttle Short
No more knee pad gaps and disappointing pockets. The women’s Shuttle Short ticks all the boxes with a long inseam, contoured hem, and four pockets to stow your plus-sized smartphone and a full serving of fruit snacks. Rounded out with 4-way stretch and DWR coating, these trail shorts keep things comfy and dry all day. MSRP $99 USD
Committed to Sustainability
PNW’s apparel is manufactured from bluesign® and OEKO–TEX® certified fabrics, and ships in compostable and biodegradable packaging. Like all PNW Components-branded products, the Spring ‘22 Women’s Apparel is covered by PNW’s Lifetime Warranty. PNW is committed to cover any failure due to a manufacturing defect and will repair or replace without charge to the original owner.
Stay tuned for our full test and review, coming soon!
Kids Ride Shotgun release new pro handlebar for MTB families
In case you missed it, last year, the guys and gals from Kids Ride Shotgun released their new shotgun pro-child seat. Built for kids 2-5 years, the pro seat was an evolution on their original shotgun mountain bike seat, featuring zero frame contact, and most importantly – quick release fitting.
Today the brand has released their new pro handlebars to match the pro seat, providing a rad-looking quick-release handlebar option for mountain bike parents.
Being quick release, the new pro bars from shotgun create an instant cockpit setup for your toddler, and most importantly, stop your little one from playing with your brakes and dropper post whilst you shred the trails together.
The extra-wide bars feature custom undersized 19mm grips specifically designed for little hands and incorporate the same styling from the pro seat.
The new bars are available as a combo with the shotgun pro-child seat, or stand-alone for those with a child seat already. Mountain bike parents can get them from their local bike shop, or order at www.kidsrideshotgun.com.au.
Shotgun Pro Child Bike Seat Handlebars – RRP $100 AUD
Shotgun Pro Child Bike Seat + Handlebars Combo – RRP $490 AUD
PNW Components, makers of quality bike components are expanding their line into the apparel scene. With a small range on offer with the Lander jacket, Shuttle shorts, and the Ozone Trail jersey they are stepping into this competitive space with a well thought out approach that offers a glimpse into what’s to come.
The world of mountain biking apparel is fiercely competitive, with so many key players in the market trying to grab your attention, but fortunately for PNW Components they have already impressed the MTB community with their range of components, so slipping into the apparel scene was the next obvious step for this exciting brand.
The Shuttle Short has been designed to fit seamlessly into days on the downhill trails and the long climb back up again. The Shuttle Short is all about comfort, with a lightweight and mobile fabric that keeps the elements out and all your gear secure.
The Abrasion Resistant 4-Way Stretch Fabric gives an excellent amount of stretch for on and off the bike.
The side zippered pockets can house a plus-sized smartphone, with room to spare and sits on the rear of the thigh area.
Made from breathable 4-way stretch abrasion-resistant fabric allows for easy pedaling and unrestricted movement, whilst the water-resistant DWRfabric keeps you warm and dry. A long inseam and contoured hem provide good coverage for knee pads. Featuring four pockets in total, with two open pockets at the front and two zippered pockets on the sides of the thighs which can house a plus-sized smartphone.
Water-Resistant DWR Coating
Abrasion Resistant 4-Way Stretch Fabric
Smartphone-Compatible Zippered Pockets
Adjusting the fit is a cinch! Old-school design wins out every time.
Ozone Trail Jersey
PNW Components designed the Ozone Trail Jersey to be the jersey that you don’t have to think twice about. Made from a mix of a breathable and soft melange of wool and polyester, the Ozone feels more like merino than polyester, and this is what gives it that favourite old T-Shirt, feel.
The Ozone jersey offers longer-than-usual sleeves and a contoured hem drop tail to provide coverage from the elements at your rear end. In terms of style, it is very understated which makes it a great option for off the bike at home or on any relaxed social occasion. The durable flatlock construction and soft texturized threads provide a seamless and super-comfy feel. So much so, you’ll forget you’re wearing it.
20% Wool / 80% Polyester Blend
Bluesign ® Certified Fabric
Durable flatlock construction
Contoured hem drop tail
Slightly longer than most short sleeve
Perforated holes under armpits
Yes, PNW socks! Come on Christmas.
Lazer perforation to keep you dry under there.
On The Trails
The Shuttle shorts ticked all the functional boxes for us. They offer great levels of stretch with their 4-way stretch fabric which also offers good levels of abrasion resistance considering how lightweight they are. If you do happen to be caught in the rain (good chance of that right now) then the water-resistant DWR fabric is efficient at keeping the water rolling off the surface, but if you do get drenched, don’t panic, they dry very quickly.
Wearing pads is not an issue with the long inseam and contoured hem at the front of the knee. My go-to knee pads are a pair of the iXS Carve EVO + which are not super bulky but bulky enough and I’ve had zero issues with compatibility. Adjusting the waistline is straightforward with an old-school cinch belt and buckle. No velcro to fail here. Sometimes the classic stuff just tends to work and keep on working.
In terms of pockets, the two on the front of the thigh don’t have zips but are roomy enough for snacks, but we only used these when off the bike as we prefer zippered pockets whilst riding, for extra security. However, the two side zippered mesh pockets are a true pocket pleaser. The zips are on the side but the internal pocket sits more on the back of your thigh, which takes a bit of getting used to at first. We assume it is designed to keep bulk and weight away from the sides and front of your thighs, if that was the intention, it has passed the test.
However, there were 20 seconds of panicked and frantic patting of the front and side of my thighs like some deranged dancer as I thought I had lost our car keys, only to remember the unique position of this pocket. So don’t panic! Just slap the back of your thigh.
We can’t overstate how comfortable the Ozone Jersey is. Super-comfortable might not cut the mustard, we may have to resort to Super, Super-comfy! Like an old T-shirt or pair of slippers that you just can’t throw away. The ozone jersey feels lived in as soon as you slip it on, in a good way of course. It has a loose fit, so it may not suit everyone’s tastes. The combination of the soft (almost merino-like) fabric and relaxed fit, makes this a very easy jersey to get on with. It’s the sort of jersey you can wear all day off the bike and then into the night. Someone we know (not naming names) has worn it as their PJ’s. Just saying. It’s super, super-comfy.
Don’t let its understated looks fool you though, because the Ozone jersey is a highly functional piece of kit. Admittedly at first, we thought the fabric would be too hot for most Australian conditions but we were soon eating our words and were surprised at how breathable and light it felt. The 20% wool in the fabric mix is a key to this, wool is a fantastic regulator of heat, plus the laser cut perforated holes under the armpits all combine to provide a jersey that really surprised us.
We doff our hats to PNW Components for diving into the vast space of MTB apparel as it’s not an easy one to make waves in, but sometimes you don’t need to make waves. Sometimes you just need to be the one riding that wave and PNW Components seem to be riding a monster wave of success right now.
Sometimes simple is better and we really appreciate the simplicity and functional design of the PNW apparel range. The Ozone Shorts and Trail Jersey offer a thoughtful design that meets riders’ needs when it comes to functionality, and performance.
If the PNW Landerjacket, the Shuttle shorts, and the Ozone Trail jersey are anything to go by, then we can only see good things come out of the PNW Apparel range.
Choosing what to wear for the ride ahead should never be something you have to spend a lot of time thinking about when all you want to do is jump on the bike and get going. With understated looks but a highly functional design, you won’t have to think twice anymore. Grab shorts, grab jersey, and off you go. Time to stop thinking and time to start riding.
The brand-new Otocon – totally protected, fully ventilated
POC has released its brand-new and award-winning full-face helmet, the Otocon. Developed for the precise needs of enduro riders, the Otocon brings together new ideas and perspectives, setting a benchmark for what can be integrated and achieved in a full-face helmet. Safety, weight, ventilation, material fusion, fit, and adjustment are just some of the defining features of the Otocon.
The Otocon Race Mips and Otocon are brand-new helmets focused on exceptional low weight and high ventilation levels, combined with a host of advanced protection. The Ibis Enduro racing team riders will use the Otocon throughout the EWS season and have been a fundamental part of the development process.
The Otocon Race Mips, in particular, is the epitome of POC’s ‘Whole Helmet Concept™’ with a variety of digital integration, such as Recco and an NFC medical ID chip, and the inclusion of Mips Integra. Weighing a mere 750g (size medium), the Otocon Race Mips uses two different liner materials optimized for function and protection in their respective part of the helmet: the upper zone with EPS and the lower zone with EPP.
Product details – Otocon v Otocon Race Mips
The Otocon will feature many of the same innovations which will come as standard in the Otocon Race Mips, such as the Race Lock, break-away peak, dual-density liner, Recco, etc. The Otocon will not feature Mips Integra, twICEme® NFC Medical ID, aramid, and the extra bad weather peak.
twICEme® NFC Medical ID
Removable cheek pads
Break-away peak / bad weather peak
Weight: Otocon Race Mips – XS = 590gr, S = 680 gr, M = 750gr, L = 850gr / Otocon – XS = 530gr, S = 620gr, M = 680gr, L = 780gr
Ventilation channels inspired by POC’s road helmets allow for unrestricted and maximum airflow. A break-away peak is included to reduce the chance of neck injuries, and a brand-new strap and size adjustment system support a finely tuned fit and retention so riders can ride with or without pads.
An essential feature of the Otocon is the cooling effect enhanced by the interior ventilation channels, which POC’s award-winning road helmets have inspired. The ventilation channels create unrestricted airflow through the helmet, providing cooling airflow at high and low speeds.
All the benefits of exceptional protection come in an incredibly lightweight package. A medium Otocon Race Mips will weigh a mere 750g, making it comfortable and easy to use all day long and amongst the very lightest full-face helmets around. The Otocon, which will have slightly fewer features, will weigh an astounding 680g (size medium), providing even more choice for riders seeking an even lighter helmet.
Commenting on the Otocon, POC’s Chief Product Officer, Oscar Huss said – “We have built up a wealth of experience supporting athletes at the very pinnacle of their sports. We wanted to develop the lightest possible full-face helmet that would meet the needs of modern-day Enduro riders, with the very best in performance, protection, ventilation and all-day comfort. The Otocon defies conventional thinking, it will protect you wherever you want to go, and you will forget you’re wearing it.”
The Otocon features Mips Integra, a new system first released with POC’s Kortal Race Mips mountain bike helmet in 2021. Developed in partnership with Mips it brings together all the benefits of rotational impact protection in an almost invisible package, the best of all worlds.
A brand-new integrated fit adjustment system, the’ Race Lock’ has been inspired by POC’s World Cup ski racing helmets. The integrated adjuster at the back of the helmet makes it easy to find each rider’s unique 360° fit, enhancing comfort and safety. The unique construction and position of the Race Lock mean that it will never interfere with a rider’s neck and allow for the broader range of movement needed in enduro and gravity riding. It is designed to work perfectly with a goggle strap, allowing total adjustment without any interference.
The Otocon introduces a new strap retention system. Taking years of experience in helmet development, the Otocon features a new anchor system more in tune with trail helmets than conventional full-face helmets. The rider will benefit from a strap retention system that gives an extensive range of adjustments, is more secure and allows the helmet to work with or without cheek pads.
Removable cheek pads
The cheek pads are removable and easy to remove while riding, which will provide even more ventilation when required, such as between enduro race stages. Thanks to the new fit system, the helmet can also be used without pads as the helmet will always be secure.
twICEme® NFC Medical ID
The helmet that can speak for you when you can’t™’. The twICEme® NFC Medical ID can support user safety and protection by storing a rider’s medical profile and emergency contact details in the helmet, allowing easy access by other riders, medical teams and first responders.
Modern mountain bikes can take you anywhere, and it is liberating, but it places even more importance on being searchable if you get lost involved in an accident. An integrated RECCO® Reflector helps rescue services easily and quickly locate you if something goes wrong.
An innovative approach to the helmet development process has resulted in a helmet that features the strength and durability of an EPP multi-impact chin bar, which also improves durability and an EPS liner in the upper section which creates a lighter helmet and provides for a precise balance.
Aramid Bridges and an Injection-molded liner
The transition between EPP and EPS in the helmet is structurally enhanced with an injection-molded cage for extra strength and stability. Aramid bridges are molded to the helmet liner to improve structural stability and penetration protection.
The grill in the chin piece – there to protect the rider from mud and other trail debris – has been designed to be easily removable, even on the go. It can be removed simply with a push. Riders who want even more airflow or who are riding in hot conditions can decide to use the grill or not.
The Otocon features a PC outer shell construction that delivers a wonderful balance of lightweight performance with durability.
Featured on many of POC’s mountain bike helmets is a patented break-away peak that will fly off the helmet in a fall or when striking an object, enhancing neck protection. And which can then be easily re-attached.
Bad weather peak
The Otocon Race Mips will come with a separate clip-on peak extension which provides even more protection from mud and rain, allowing the rider to see better in bad conditions. It has no moving parts and is designed to snap into place on the top of the peak. A feature inspired directly by the Ibis Enduro racing team riders.
Where to buy / Price
The Otocon and the Otocon Race Mips will be available later in April/May. Both will be available online and in selected retail stores.
There are three places you make contact with your bike, these points of contact (touchpoints) are the handlebars, the pedals, and the saddle. Out of these three touchpoints, the handlebars and pedals seem to be the first ones we spend top dollar on, whilst the saddle is sometimes overlooked but can make a massive impact on your ride.
The saddle is one of those components that if bad, is very bad, but if good, you simply forget about it and just enjoy the ride. A poorly chosen saddle can be a painful affair on long climbs and even approach a health risk for longer periods in the saddle with nerve damage
Ergon and SQLab have made leaps and bounds in this space but are certainly not exclusive to the “science of the saddle”. Smanie has been developing saddles for the road racing scene for years and now bring all their know-how in saddle science to the offroad market.
Who Is Smanie?
Smanie has been developing high-end saddles for many years in the road racing scene and adopt an eco-friendly method in all of its manufacturing processes. Eco-Friendly isn’t just a catchy buzzword at Smanie. It’s the heart of their company, employees, and athletes. All of the Smanie products are made from recycled materials. That includes covers, foam, bases, rails, and even the packaging.
Smanie saddles are developed through partnerships with world-class athletes to meet the demands of the most challenging tracks and race situations, confirmed by studies carried out in the lab and fit studio, and available to all. A great saddle should be something you don’t need to think about, it should just dissolve into nothing as you enjoy the ride ahead. The Smanie hashtag says it all really. #FORGETABOUTUS
When a cyclist sits on the saddle there are three points of contact that are subjected to the most pressure: two at the back in the ischial area and one at the front in the perineal area. These points vary according to the “size” of the pelvis and the muscular structure.
A classic shape. Turns out pros from 30 years ago knew something about being comfortable. Looks great, works, let’s not overthink this.
The N-Spire saddle has been developed over 3 years and is aimed squarely at the enduro and trail rider. Smanie has put all their booty know-how into these saddles by identifying the pressure points so that the saddle will suit a wide range of cyclists.
Smanie has opted for a different approach to the standard profile or relieved center-section (cut-out), and based the design on an optimal shape for comfort on long rides. The cut-out, although not an obvious missing section that you would normally associate with this, is created by using varying layers and thicknesses of foam, strategically placed so that when they interact with soft tissue, nerve pressure is relieved. The end result is a classic saddle look that delivers all-day comfort on the harshest of terrains. Comfort without the cut-out.
Athermic Insulation: Heat resistant padding to allow for a more comfortable ride during those long days in the saddle.
Water Repellent: To protect both saddle and rider from unwanted friction and premature wear.
Green: ECO-friendly manufacturing process
Recycled: Use of 100% recycled materials
CoreElastomer: Use of synthetic polymer in the center of the saddle to improve the comfort in the perineal region.
AirFlowTechnology: Breathable materials
ECO+ Padding: ECO+ is more than just padding, it is created by using recycled material while still offering maximum comfort and aesthetic qualities, in addition to being athermic and water-repellent material.
The N-Spire is a saddle designed with the off-road rider in mind; whether you’re a racer at local or international levels, a social rider who slays the trails on the weekends or a hardcore XC rider who loves endless hours on the saddle, the anatomically engineered N-Spire is a saddle definitely worth looking at.
The N.Spire series was designed by pro MTB, CX racer and Bio-Medical Engineer, Ph.D., Jen Malik. She created one of the most scientifically advanced and anatomically correct saddles on the market. 40 CT scans, multiple pressure mapping studies, finite element modeling, and nearly 500 different model variations later a saddle that nearly eliminates all pressure and hotspots. The standards applied to this saddle’s design were so rigorous that they generally are only reserved for medical devices.
“There are many exhilarating things to focus on during your next ride. Smanie believe that thinking about your saddle should not be one of them.”
On The Trails
The Smanie hashtag says it all really. #FORGETABOUTUS. A good saddle should be something that disappears from your mind as you ride and the N-Spire does exactly that.
What we particularly liked about the N-Spire is that it actually looks like a saddle. It’s good to know that the classic shape obviously still has merit in terms of providing comfort and support, and still provides the same level of performance and protection as other cut-out designs, out there. “Turns out pros from 30 years ago knew something about being comfortable. Looks great, works, let’s not overthink this.“
The N-Spire does away with a cut-out design and in turn, has a supportive and sumptuous feel. In fact, it’s one of the most comfortable saddles we have ever used. Cut-out designs are all well and good but there can be downsides such as flexing in the shell due to the saddle having less body in that section.
Dealing with nerve pressure is paramount for Smanie and the absence of a cut-out seems to have no downside. This is because the N-Spire uses varying layers of foam on specific areas around the saddle, and this is the key to why it feels so comfortable. Overall, the N-Spire provided excellent levels of sit bone support and comfort, and after hours in the saddle, we didn’t experience any painful nerve or pressure sore spots.
The AthermicInsulation which is designed to manage temperatures in the saddle as you squish and squirm your way up the hill must be doing something because our bottom felt like the Goldilocks story, not too hot and not too cold,just right!
The water repellent microfibre material is soft and supple and allows for smooth movement on the saddle as you transfer and shift weight accordingly, and is quick and easy to wipe clean after a muddy ride which helps keep the saddle in tip-top condition.
We found it hard to pick any difference in terms of nerve pain or pressures between a cut-out channel design and the N-Spire approach of using different layers of foam in specific areas. What we did notice was how comfortable the N-Spire felt. Due to the classic shape and the lack of a channel or cut-out, it just felt so much more comfortable in general, which at the end of the day, isn’t that exactly what a saddle should do?
During the test phase, we kept thinking about the Smanie hashtag #FORGETABOUTUS, which we naturally and invariably did, which made it quite difficult to review but in a good way.
The Smanie N-Spire saddle does what it says on the box. It looks like a saddle, it feels like a saddle, it must be a saddle. Don’t be fooled with its classic saddle look of yesteryear, because packed inside is all the support and comfort you’d ever want from a saddle. All of which has been backed up with enough research and lab testing to put a human into space.
What you feel when you sit on a Smanie saddle is a sense of luxury. The whole package screams quality with the materials and construction and the technology to support and protect your rear end and those tender bits. The Smanie ethos of quality and 100% eco-friendly design is carried through from the materials, construction, and even the packaging. It’s not often you can purchase a luxury item that fully encompasses a recyclable manufacturing process.
Smanie may want you to forget about their saddles when you ride, but we certainly will not forget what this brand does and offers in the MTB space. We just hope more brands could mirror their ethos.
The N.Spire colorways allow you to find your style and match your saddle to your grips, pedals, decals, frame, or even your kit. Used by Pro mountain bikers Polygon UR Team and KS-Kenda Women’s elite racer Jennifer Malik for Enduro and XC applications.
Cross Country, Cyclocross, Downhill, Enduro, Mountain Bike, Road
Behind The Scenes with Endura Footwear and the Athertons
Step behind the scenes as @The Athertons and the crew from Peny try to get a “ridiculously enormous shoebox” onto the trails at Dyfi Bike Park to shoot the Stick Or Twist? Endura X Athertons video.
The new MTB shoes from Endura are available in store – crammed to the gills with technology and innovation to make your pedal stroke smoother, stiffer, and more comfortable, with better power transfer and crucially a super durable sole made of glue… Okay, it’s not made of glue, but it’s as sticky as hell… which is precisely why it’s named StickyFoot™.
The Ranger, Rascal & Rail 27.5 are bikes that have blown us away in terms of engineering, build quality, and performance, but there was always one that we’ve been frothing to see since we swung a leg over the Rail 27.5 a few years ago. Finally, the long-anticipated Rail 29 from Revel has arrived. With an already impressive stable of bikes, the new 29’er Rail will complement and fill the empty spot in their lineup and one we have all have been waiting for.
Revel has spent years designing, testing, riding, and refining this bike. The Rail29 represents the best of what the team has learned since launching the Revel brand just three short years ago.
We absolutely loved the Rail 27.5, which we revieweda couple of years ago but we have to admit, we have been eagerly waiting for the news of a longer travel 29 er to come out of the Revel stable ever since, and here we are!
With 29” wheels, bigger bearings, beefier hardware, and an absurdly well-tuned CBF suspension platform, this bike will be something very special.
29″ WHEELS / 155MM REAR / 160MM FRONT
With the larger wheels, 160mm up front paired with 150mm of rear travel, the Rail29 will be right at home on the top of any enduro race track, bike park, or all-day epics in the hills. Revel claim that this bike exudes confidence in any terrain and will have you smiling for miles as you Rail corners and Revel the trail.
Now everything you loved about the Rail 27.5, is now available with bigger wheels!
Geometry and Sizing
Balanced, dialed geometry that is modern but not too modern. The bike has a 76-degree seat angle for a perfect balance between pedaling power and a centered rider position. The reach is slightly longer than our other bikes for a more aggressive, faster feel. A 65-degree head angle is the right balance between speed on the downhills and technical handling ability on all terrain. After studying these numbers, go give the Rail29 a test ride to see what it’s all about!
CBF™ focuses on designing around the Center of Curvature (CC) and balancing that with the Instant Center (IC). Until now, most suspension systems have focused solely on the IC. CBF points the chain line and drives forces directly into the IC throughout 100-percent of the travel by balancing the CC over the chainring, resulting in maximum pedaling efficiency, regardless of where you are in the travel, what terrain you are on or what kind of power you’re putting down.
All the power you put into the pedals propels you in one direction–forward—allowing the suspension to do its job completely independent of drivetrain and braking forces, and making the sag setting much less important. When we first rode the largely-unknown CBF system, we knew it was something special, and we knew we could make the best riding carbon mountain bikes using this magical formula.
At the time of this post, we only have the US price options available but rest assured, the Australian importers will soon have more information for us.
Bum bags, fanny packs, hip packs…. They have many names. You might even call them the death of the ‘hydration pack’…..
Collectively, we have been riding bikes for a very long time. Back in the day, any decent ride meant a ‘camel pack’ loaded to the brim with every conceivable item that you just might need- and at least 3L of water, because you know, it’s hot carrying all that gear.
Bike frames with water bottle holders are now a must-have for most riders, in-frame storage is becoming more common & you can jam tools in just about every nook and cranny of your bike. But you generally still need a little bit more. Enter the new age of the bum bag, sorry hip pack! We have been using them for a few years now and are converted.
There is a large range of hip packs on the market and we’ve tested a few of them over the years. They tend to range from the very minimalist to the cavernous. What we like about the PNW Rover hip pack is that it sits right in the middle of the pack. Excuse the pun.
First impressions of the pack were great, as we have come to expect with PNW’s gear. The construction and fabrics used are top quality, featuring the burly and dependable YKK zippers, plus a water-resistant seam for foul-weather days.
The pack is lightweight due to the super-light abrasion-resistant Tri-Layer Sailcloth material, striking a perfect balance between weight and durability. It also looks rather unique. There were certainly a few at Tyres and Soles HQ pitching their case to be the one to review it.
The overall design is centred around the main compartment which features neat internal and external storage solutions. Coming off each end of the main compartment are the side sections (wings) that wrap around the waist. These wings have adjustment straps to fine-tune the fit, and also feature zippered pockets.
In terms of storage, well, PNW describes it best as it having a ‘Sh#tload of pockets’, and we tend to agree with that statement. It even comes with a detachable drink bottle holder that clips onto the pack for those longer days in the saddle.
The back panel offers an ample supply of padding for comfort and uses a mesh fabric for ventilation and breathability.
Foul weather taped seams and abrasion resistant Tri-Layer Sailcloth material, striking a perfect balance between weight and durability.
On The Trails
Being used to a smaller pack, we were a little nervous that it might feel too big and bulky, so we loaded up with the usual basics- tools, CO2 cartridge, snacks, and phone, and headed out to try it on some trails. Adjusting it couldn’t have been more simple, with the use of the adjustable ‘wings’.
Comfort & Support
The first thing we noticed was how well it sat on the hips. The padding around the back of the pack supports the lumbar and a smart adjustment system that feels like a good hug (not a creepily tight one).
The pack holds everything you could really need for the majority of rides. The pack felt stable, regardless of the terrain being ridden. The wing pockets are great for GoPro batteries, single car keys, Thredbo RFID cards, etc. There are 2 large elastic-mesh pockets inside the pack. One takes the phone and the other is used to organise tubeless repair kits and assorted loose items.
The main pockets can easily accommodate a granite tools mini ratchet, leatherman, and tyre pressure gauge. This leaves ample room for a light rain jacket, spare gloves, or whatever you might want to jam in there.
The addition of smaller adjustable pull tabs on the sides of the pack allows you to adjust the overall volume of the pack. When we had less gear we would pull the tabs tight to minimise the size of the pack. Conversely with the unpredictable weather we have been having lately- thanks to La Niña- when bringing a rain jacket we could expand the pack to make a little extra room.
The detachable water bottle holder is a good feature. We found ourselves removing it off for shorter rides or shuttle days but clipping it back on when we knew we’d need extra water, such as dragging the kids along for a ride. Having this modular system, we feel, is a good feature. The system works well and mounts securely with the bottle sitting tightly against the pack, which helps it to remain stable on the janky stuff.
In summary, we can’t say a bad thing about the PNW Rover Hip Pack. It’s versatile, well made, light and really well priced given the quality and features. If you’re looking for a comfortable hip pack that features a modular design, great lumbar support, and foul weather protection with large amounts of storage and pockets, then we highly recommend you check it out.
Price/Where To Buy
PNW Components Rover Hip Pack: $69.00USD
Available in two colours: Star Dust or Black Matter.
Ask for one at your local bike shop or shop online atthe PNW Website.
Mountain Bike and Hiking Gear Reviews, Outdoor Lifestyle and Culture