All posts by Jason Lorch

Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. I'm also a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often). I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them. So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.

First Look – Norman Mountain Biking

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

For more information or to purchase, please visit normanmtb.com, and follow Norman on Instagram @normanmountainbiking

First Look – PNW Components Range Pedal

CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF!

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.

Specifications:

• 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

Price:

PNW Components Range Pedal: MSRP $49 USD

FIRST LOOK – PNW Components Women’s MTB Apparel

PNW Components Launches Women’s MTB Apparel 

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 OEKOTEX® 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!

Riding with your toddler just got more epic

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. 

Price

  • Shotgun Pro Child Bike Seat Handlebars – RRP $100 AUD 
  • Shotgun Pro Child Bike Seat + Handlebars Combo – RRP $490 AUD 

The Emperor’s New Clothes

PNW Trail Shorts and Ozone Jersey Review

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.

Shuttle Short

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.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

The Abrasion Resistant 4-Way Stretch Fabric gives an excellent amount of stretch for on and off the bike.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

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 DWR fabric 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
  • 13″ Inseam
Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Adjusting the fit is a cinch! Old-school design wins out every time.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

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
Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Yes, PNW socks! Come on Christmas.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Lazer perforation to keep you dry under there.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

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.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Conclusions

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 Lander jacket, 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.

Price/Where to buy

  • PNW Shuttle Shorts: $99.00 USD
  • PNW Ozone Trail Jersey: $49.00 USD

First Look – POC Otocon

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.

https://tyresandsoles.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/POC_Otocon_Launch_30sec_16x9-2.mp4

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. 

Key features:

  • Highly ventilated
  • Lightweight
  • Mips Integra
  • Race lock
  • twICEme® NFC Medical ID 
  • RECCO® Reflector
  • Strap retention
  • Removable grill 
  • Removable cheek pads 
  • PC SHell
  • 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.

Highly ventilated 

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. 

Lightweight

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.

IMAGE

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.”

Mips Integra

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.

Race Lock 

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.

Strap retention 

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.

RECCO® Reflector

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. 

Dual-material liner 

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. 

Removable grill 

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. 

PC Shell 

The Otocon features a PC outer shell construction that delivers a wonderful balance of lightweight performance with durability. 

Break-away peak 

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.

  • Otocon Race Mips – EURO 329.95 / GBP 300 / USD 350 / SEK 3,299 / CAD 420 / AUD 500 / NZD 540
  • Otocon – EURO 269.95 / GBP 240 / USD 270 / SEK 2,699 / CAD 310 / AUD 425 / NZD 465

A Saddle Worthy of a Royal Derrière

Smanie N-Spire Saddle Review

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

Find out more about Smanie here.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

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.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

A classic shape. Turns out pros from 30 years ago knew something about being comfortable. Looks great, works, let’s not overthink this.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

Features

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.

Key features

  • 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
  • Core Elastomer: Use of synthetic polymer in the center of the saddle to improve the comfort in the perineal region.
  • Air Flow Technology: 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.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

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.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

“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.”

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

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 Athermic Insulation 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.

Conclusions

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.

Photo credit: VitalMTB

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.

Tech Specs

Suggested DisciplineCross Country, Cyclocross, Downhill, Enduro, Mountain Bike, Road
Saddle Length256mm (All models)
Saddle Width136mm / 146mm / 156mm
Saddle Weight136mm (226g Chromo)
146mm (235g Chromo)
156mm (237g Chromo)
Cover MaterialMicrofibre
Padding MaterialCromoly
Padding MaterialEco-Light 
Shell MaterialNylon + Fiberglass
Channel Depth0mm

Price / Where To Buy

Smanie N-Spire Saddle: $169.95 – $299.95

Available for both men and women in 136mm, 146mm, and 156mm widths and a variety of colours.

Ask for the N-Spire at your local bike store.

Australian Stockists (That we know of)

Riding a ridiculously enormous shoebox

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™.

Watch the full edit here – https://youtu.be/pQv3BDsMhzM

Find out more about the outstanding new MTB footwear range from Endura – https://www.endurasport.com/blog/news…

First Look – Revel Rail 29

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.

Photo credit: Worldwide-Cyclery

We absolutely loved the Rail 27.5, which we reviewed a 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.

Photo credit: Worldwide-Cyclery

Now everything you loved about the Rail 27.5, is now available with bigger wheels!

Photo credit: Worldwide-Cyclery

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!

Photo credit: Worldwide-Cyclery

CBF Explained

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.

Build Options

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.

Click HERE for the full build specs.

  • GX EAGLE KIT: $5,999USD
  • SHIMANO XT KIT: $7,299USD
  • X01 EAGLE KIT: $8,299
  • XX1 EAGLE AXS KIT: $10,999USD

Specifications:

  • Everything you loved about the Rail, now with bigger wheels! 
  • 65 head tube angle with 160mm fork (64.5 with 170mm), 76 seat tube angle on Revel with 160mm fork, 436mm chainstay, Reach: 447mm (M), 469mm (L), Seattube length: 415.5 (M), 453.5 (L)
  • Universal derailleur hanger (UDH)
  • Completely redesigned linkage hardware, that only requires a 6mm hex key to disassemble the entire rear linkage without having to remove the crankset. 
  • Bigger bearings at all pivots. Increased durability, better seals seal spec and only one row of bearings needed.
  • Better compatible with coil shocks (shorter yoke helps)
  • Our first bike with ISCG-05 tabs
  • Extra seat post insertion for longer droppers on all sizes
  • Molded Revel Chainstay protection
  • Colors: 
    • Lead King, black with just the right amount of sparkle… 
    • Shred Velvet Cake, velvet cake yet candy red in the sun

Geometry

Wheel Size29″
Front Travel160mm (170mm max)
Rear Travel155mm
Fork44mm Offset, 59mm Crown Diameter
Rear Shock230mm x 60 – 22.2 x 8mm Hardware Spec
Rear Dropout148mm Spacing, SRAM UDH
Rear AxleRevel UDH Boost 12×177 1.0mm Thread Pitch
Seatpost Diameter31.6mm / 34.9mm clamp
Seatpost Insertion Depth300+mm (all sizes)  *Verify tire clearance to dropped saddle at bottom out before use. 
Bearings4x BOLU 6902V, 2x BOLU 3802V, 4x BOLU 6801V
Rear BrakePost Mount, 180mm direct / 203mm max
Tyre Clearance29″ x 2.4″ (rear)
Bottom Bracket73mm BSA Standard
ChainringMax 36T Round / 34T Oval, 52mm Chainline
ISCG TabsISCG-05 Standard
HeadsetIS42 upper / IS52 lower
Bottle Mounts2 (top and bottom of downtube)
ColoursLead King / Shred Velvet Cake
SizesS / M / L / XL
Frame WarrantyLifetime Warranty(Details HERE)

Kinematics

Photo credit: Worldwide-Cyclery

PNW Put Another Nail In The Hydration Pack

PNW Rover Hip Pack Review

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.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke
Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

Features

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.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

The back panel offers an ample supply of padding for comfort and uses a mesh fabric for ventilation and breathability.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

Foul weather taped seams and abrasion resistant Tri-Layer Sailcloth material, striking a perfect balance between weight and durability.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

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).

Storage

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.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke
Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

Conclusions

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.


FIRST LOOK – New Enduro Footwear

Step up your ride in Endura Footwear 

Sticky situations. Not usually something high on the wish list and not usually something you want to find yourself in, with just one exception that is. When it comes to MTB shoes, a sticky situation is precisely what you’re after, it’s what you dream of, it’s the goal, the very aim of the game.

A non-sticky situation is at best a pedal slip, at worst it’s painfully gouging a chunk of flesh out of your calf or losing a race. Not good, not what you wanted at all.

Step forward, pun intended the all-new Endura MTB footwear collection. 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… OK, it’s not made of glue, but it’s as sticky as hell… which is precisely why Endura have named it StickyFOOT™.

The new Endura footwear comes in a choice of clipless or flats with a mouth-watering selection of colours.


Find out more about the new MTB footwear at endurasport.com .

Feel The Pressure Rise with Hi Flow Tubeless Valves

76 Projects Hi Flow Tubeless Valves Review

I have been riding bikes for a while. Since the days when a ‘heavy duty’ tube was the only solution for hard-charging riders- weight be damned! Then one day people started ‘gorilla taping’ their rims, pouring in some strange white fluid and tubeless was born. 

Tubeless has come a long way since then. Rim profiles have changed, tyres are tubeless compatible and don’t burp the moment you hit a corner hard, and we have a plethora of tyre inserts available to allow lower pressures. Things are pretty sweet in tubeless land. In fact, I cannot ever see myself using a tube again.

I think it’s fair to say, we are at the point of looking at ways of improving the tubeless system. There seems to be a new product, with bold claims, coming out every other week. A magic formula of sealant, a new insert to lock in your tyre beads, a new rim profile for easier seating. The list goes on.

Our biggest tubeless headache is usually seating a tyre. Some rim and tyre combinations are simple, others are incredibly annoying and involve a lot of swearing and usually a trip to the service station to use their compressor. Cue Project 76 Hi-Flow No Clog Tubeless Valves.

Tubeless bike tyres and rims were introduced 20 years ago yet tubeless systems still use the Presta valve standard. The clearances in a Presta valve are smaller than the holes that sealant is supposed to be able to block so it’s no surprise that the valves get clogged.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

Features

The 76 Projects HI FLOW valves immediately appear different from your standard valve. The wide collar near the top of the valve is the key giveaway that these are not your normal valves, and this is where the increased airflow does its magic.

The HI FLOW valves claim they push through 4x the air throughput of a standard valve, plus a redesigned core which helps prevent sealant build-up. This is music to our ears and we’re stumped as to why it’s taken someone so long to come up with a design like this.

The valves themselves are quality bits of kit and come in a classic 90’s era purple or a standard black. We’d love to see more colour options for us matchy, matchy types.

In the box is the unique premium CNC’d valve, a press on rubber valve cap, various spacers for different rim heights, a rubber bung to seal the valve from the inside and a screw-on port that attaches to the bung to allow the air to flow horizontally from the port which reduces the clogging.

Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

Tech Specs

  • ”No Clog’ internals – Greatly increased clearances prevent sealant build up.
  • 300% increase in volume of air over presta. Fill the tyre faster and help seat and seal the bead.
  • Inject sealant directly through the valve centre. 
  • Compatible with rims drilled for presta valves.
  • Lightweight at just 9 grams a pair.
  • Manufactured using high precision CNC machined aluminium.
  • Come supplied with spacers to allow fitting to different rim heights.
  • Removeable ‘core’
  • Compatible with rim inserts.

# SOLD AS A PAIR 

  • USE WITH PUSH ON PUMP ONLY. Screw on adapter coming soon
  • Size 1 – MTB 15-35mm rim depth
  • Size 2 – 30-50mm rim depth
  • Size 3 – 45mm – 65mm rim depth

Installation

The process is fairly straightforward: determine the number of spacers you will need, remove the air port and rubber bung from the bottom, slide through from the top of your rim, reattach the bung and screw the air port back on. Tension everything down so that it is airtight and you’re good to inflate.

Is it more difficult than a normal valve, maybe? There are certainly more moving pieces, but if it lives up to its claims then it’s got to be worth it.

The first surprise came when we inflated the tyre. Our test rims are carbon and have proven to be pretty annoying to seat in the past due to tyre inserts and the ability to get air in quick enough.

We plugged in the trusty 12v camping compressor, turned it on and BANG! The bead snapped into place almost instantly. We really did not expect such a dramatic result. We always use a small amount of soapy water to assist seating, but used very little this time and can only attribute this to the much higher flow rate of the valves.

It usually takes a lot longer to ‘pop the bead’ and sometimes requires some wrangling to get the bead to pop but this was a very different experience from anything before. We wanted to test using a floor pump as we know this is the norm for most riders garage set up, and yes, it was definitely much easier than usual. The combination of the increased airflow chamber and the anti-clog valve makes a huge difference.

Conclusions

A tubeless setup has become the norm for most riders these days but seating a new tyre can sometimes be a tricky affair that can end up in pure frustration. The 76 Projects Hi-Flow Tubeless Valves are here to help you become more zen with this procedure.

Inflating the tyre is now super-quick with a track pump, thanks to the increased airflow chamber in the valve which in turn seats the tyre much more efficiently, reducing frustration, arm pump and general throwing of things around like a big child in a tantrum, giving you back precious time you can spend on riding your bike or congratulating yourself after seating a new tyre in record time.

Price / Where to buy?

  • 76 Projects Hi-Flow Tubeless Valves $56.95
  • Available from Full Beam Australia, or ask for them at your local bike shop.
Photo credit: ©Sam Clarke

It’s Landed! Could This Be Your Next Jacket?

The PNW Lander Jacket Review

Loyal to customer requests and fueled by a desire to offer durable and functional goods at a reasonable price, PNW Components has entered the apparel sector. Consisting of a unisex jacket and jersey, and men’s-specific shorts. This is an exciting time for PNW Components who have been steadily growing its product range.

Over two years of work have culminated in a combination of thoughtful, technical details and understated aesthetics so you don’t feel like an overly-sponsored NASCAR driver when on a ride (but that’s cool if that’s what you’re going for). Most importantly, PNW’s aim, as always, was to make sure each product married functionality and durability at a reasonable price point. 

Following the same standards as their bike components, PNW’s new apparel line offers garments that are affordable, hold up to the elements, and can be trusted for the long haul. To kick it all off, we got our hands on the new Lander jacket and were left very impressed with what we found.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

As you’d expect, the hood is helmet-compatible with plenty of room to spare.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

There is no fear of getting lost in the bush with this colour.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Lander Jacket Key Features

The Lander jacket features a Water-Resistant DWR Coating, so although not 100% waterproof it has been designed for poor weather conditions. Drizzly, colder windy riding conditions. Those days when you need that extra layer of protection.

The jacket is made from an Abrasion Resistant 4-way Stretch Fabric which has been used for its super-stretchy characteristics. This was chosen as to not impede body movements whilst riding or hike-a-biking.

As you’d expect, the Lander jacket also features a Helmet-Compatible Hood and can easily accommodate most open face helmets with plenty of room to spare. It has a single rear and two front toggles to adjust the closure of the opening.

In terms of storage, it features two ample-sized zipped front mesh pockets but at the rear of the jacket is the pièce de résistance. It’s what is known as a “Pop Tart Pocket System”. It’s a large mesh fabric section that has been organised into individual storage compartments. There is also a belt that loops and ties this storage system down to reduce bouncing.

Like all of PNW Components branded products, the apparel is covered by the same Lifetime Warranty. PNW will cover any failure due to a manufacturing defect and will repair or replace it, at their discretion, without charge to the original owner. Of course, all of the common-sense caveats apply here as well.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

The rear panel drops lower than the front providing great coverage from trail dirt.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

The stitching and overall construction is of a very high standard. The Lander jacket exudes quality, through and through.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

On The Trails

Some waterproof jackets, due to the materials used, restrict body movement on the bike and result in a poor riding experience. It can be very off-putting when needing to twist into a turn or pull up hard on take-offs to find your jacket is literally holding you back. Well, the Lander won’t do any of that with the 4-way Stretch Fabric. The jacket just stretches as you move. We really liked this and felt it was a key aspect of the jacket.

Another key feature of this jacket is its ability to dry incredibly quickly when riding along which was mainly due to the number of mesh pockets it features. Everything under the surface is practically mesh. Although not 100% waterproof, it is a great option for when you need just a little more protection against the elements than a long-sleeved jersey.

The Helmet-Compatible Hood is very roomy and we had no issues fitting our helmets under it. The three adjustment toggles kept the hood cinched down to the helmet when riding fast, and visibility was excellent due to the large opening and oval side profile allowing for good peripheral vision.

If you need to carry a bit of gear with you, then the Lander jacket can certainly accommodate this. As well as the two front pockets the main “Pop Tart Pocket System” is where it really shines. The large mesh pocket at the rear of the jacket has two massive zippered openings on each side. This allows you to access these pockets very easily whilst still sitting on the bike.

The best part by far though is the “anti-flop” feature, which is just a lightweight belt that loops around the mesh pockets and your waist, bringing the whole load close to your body and thus reducing the gear bouncing around on your back. A simple design but very effective.

It’s also worth mentioning the “fit for purpose” details the Lander jacket features, such as the angled cut on the sleeves which seem to work perfectly when riding, and the lower back panel to reduce muddy bottom syndrome. It’s the attention to detail that really impressed us with this jacket.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

The Pop-Tart Pocket System. A sweet design!

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Anti-Flop belt. Simple but very effective.

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

The two large front mesh zippered pockets. Breezy!

Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Conclusions

PNW has bravely stepped into the apparel sector and has achieved it with great triumph. The Lander jacket is a great option if you’re looking for a mid-weight jacket that offers more than a wind shell but is not as full-on as a 100% waterproof jacket. With highly stretchy water-resistant materials that do not restrict movement, a ton of storage options, and a helmet-compatible hood, the Lander is a very stylish foul-weather jacket that stands out from the crowd.

The Lander jacket is a real winner in our books with its fine looks and exceptional quality construction. PNW is a brand that listens to its customers and creates products that reflect their passion.

Price / Where to buy?

PNW Lander Jacket: $149.00 USD

Head on over to the PNW website for more info. Fingers crossed it will be landing in Australian stores very soon.

Colour shown is Super-Nova. Also comes in a dark green (Netron).