The flow of cool kit finding its way into the office is showing no signs of slowing as this week, we've got everything from a bike, right through to some winter riding goodness. Berria has dropped in its cross country soft tail, and we've got fresh kit from Troy Lee Designs just to name a couple. And as always, we'll highlight the top stories of the week.
We started this week with some very exciting features, kicking off with our Charlie Hatton interview, where we sat down with downhill's newest World Champion to talk about his experience and choices that decided the race. On the subject of racing, we took a look at the Cape Epic route 2024, giving you everything you need to know ahead of the event.
Continuing the theme of features, we took a techy turn to take a look at air vs coil suspension, to explore the differences between the two and what they might mean for your bike's handling. Lance also took a deep dive into bearings, asking the question, are ceramic bearings worth it?
As for news, we caught Fegus Ryan as he tests the new Privateer prototype and before you go anywhere, don't forget to check out Gee Atherton's Ridgeline IV. We've also got a first-ride review of Merida's very latest One-Sixty FR, a bike that takes Merida's proven formula, and turns it up a notch.
Berria Bravo 6.1
The Bravo is Berria's cross-country hardtail but calling it a hardtail may be a little wrong as it's designed with the brand's Softex Suspension System. This system utilises both a flexy, Tibia, seatpost that blunts the initial impact and, as it moves further into its effective travel, the bike's seat stay bends with the help of a pivot that's integrated into the seat tube and top tube junction. Berria says that this system is regressive and reactive, making it great for fast terrain with medium to low technical demands. As such, this system puts the Berria in between a hardtail and a full-suspension bike.
Cool features continue as the bike benefits from AMS or Anti-Mud System which is said to optimise the contact points between the tyre and the frame in order to prevent and clear mud build-up. Of course, in XC, any excess weight is a penalty so this should come in handy.
The Bravo 6 gets internal cable routing that sees its cables enter through the stem and out where they're needed. As for geometry, this small frame gets a 67-degree head angle, a 75.1-degree effective seat tube angle and a 420mm chainstay. The reach measures in at 430mm.
Troy Lee Designs Descent jacket
2023 troy lee designs descent jacket 5ct.jpg, by Liam Mercer
Getting us ready for a solid winter's riding is Troy Lee Designs with the Descent jacket. This top is designed to be water-resistant enough to keep the rider dry in light to average rain. It gets waterproof seamed pockets with a 10k/10k material that blends waterproofing with breathability.
On top of that is a large hood that's spacious enough to fit over a helmet and it can be rolled out of the way if the deluge calms. Those two pockets are opened with easy-to-reach pull cords and TLD says that valuables shouldn't bounce around as you ride.
Smith Optics Network
The Network is designed as a true all-rounder, whether you're looking to take it out on blasts over tarmac, gravel or even during a cross-country event. Upping the protection is Smith's chosen blend of zonal Koroyd, which is located at the sides of the helmet and a Mips liner to further reduce rotational influences under impact.
This helmet gets a fancy ventilation system that not only guides cool air around the head but also directs it down into any eyewear, keeping it fog-free throughout the ride. As expected of an optics brand, Smith has included pass-through channels at the front of the lid that makes for an ideal spot to store your glasses.
Pirelli Scorpion Enduro M
Pirelli says the Scorpion Enduro M is the most versatile tyre in its range and it's designed both for your weekend rides or heavy efforts between the tape. It gets a very similar tread pattern as seen on the Scorpion Enduro Race M but with an alternating shoulder knob.
This tyre gets the brand's SmartGRIP Gravity rubber compound that's inspired by Pirelli's motocross roots. This rubber is built up of a single compound formula so performance should remain consistent as it doesn't wear through to a harder supporting layer. There's also Pirelli's ProWALL casing with sidewall protection that better resists punctures and improves handling at lower pressure.
Altura All Road Women's Fleece
2023 altura all road women's fleece 5ct.jpg, by Liam Mercer
Altura's All Road Women's Fleece is built to be a relaxed mid-layer for its warmth-to-weight ratio. It gets a fleece upper that's naturally hydrophobic while the softshell portion of the jacket benefits from a DWR coating that'll fend off the odd unexpected shower. Then featured is a handy chest pocket, reflective details and a large rear zipped pocket. All of that makes this top ideal both for road and gravel jaunts.
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