4 mountain bikes from Outerbike festival in Crested Butte; and women’s clothing
Special to the Vail Daily
Fall is a great time to shop for a new bike — trails are still dry, temperatures cool comfortably and riders have their pick of both this year’s and next year’s models.
We checked out some of the most popular bikes from dozens of brands at the recent Outerbike festival in Crested Butte and bring you some of our top picks.
As with the ongoing trend in the bike industry, expect longer travel, slacker top tubes and frames with lower profiles. Also, it’s never been so fashionable to be plus-sized, with more bike makers creating frames compatible with tires up to 3.2 inches wide. (Standard tires run anywhere from 1.6 to 2.6 inches wide.)
If you’re looking for that bike that does it all, then there will be a host of contenders next year.
Spot Mayhem 27.5+ 2018
Spot’s sleek, candy-colored bikes have been showing up with more frequency on Colorado’s trails over the past couple of years, and for good reason. The Golden-based boutique company was founded by the same folks who brought us Avid brakes, and they’re now turning their attention to full-suspension bikes.
The Mayhem is Spot’s high performance trail bike, boasting 130 mm front and rear travel, Spot’s own Living Link suspension system and the option of plus-tires.
While the Mayhem’s specs might suggest a more cross-country-oriented bike, the Mayhem rode like a bike with much more travel. Maybe it was the plus-tires, or the frame’s responsiveness, but 6-inch drops and craggy rock beds felt like nothing on this bike. The centered geometry allowed you to simply sit back and ride through troublesome obstacles like butter.
Spot claims that all the bike’s bearings are externally sealed, preventing dirt and water from getting in, thus making the bike low maintenance and extending the life of the components. It would be interesting to see if this promise plays out to be true, since no one likes frequent trips to the mechanic.
Spot-curious riders in Colorado should check out the company’s headquarters in Golden, which offers weekday demos. For more information, http://www.spotbrand.com.
Niner Jet 9 RDO 2017
Niner is known for its beautifully designed hardtail bikes, so it was an eye-opening experience to ride its full-suspension line. At first glance, the Jet 9 looks beefy and aggressive, but it’s an all-terrain steed in disguise.
The bike features 130/120 mm travel in front and rear respectively, with compatibility for both 29- and 27.5-inch wheel sizes. (For this review, we rode the 27.5 sizing.)
Everything about this bike seemed so dialed in, from the feel of the RDO frame, made of Niner’s top-of-the-line carbon technology, to the pedal efficiency. For a bike with a mid-range of travel, the Jet climbed well and was very light by any standard.
Descending, the Jet seemed to transcend its 130 mm of travel by offering an impressively plush ride over smaller rocks, brake ridges and other bumps, while also handling techier roots and rocks with efficiency.
The Jet’s geometry and wheel-size compatibility allows the bike to fit a wide range of riders, something always appreciated by people at both ends of the height spectrum. The company says that outside some minor tweaks, the Jet 9 2018 shouldn’t be vastly different from its 2017 version. For more information, visit http://www.ninerbikes.com.
For ladies who shred
Slowly, but surely, more options are coming onto the market for women riders who want performance and fit. Not all manufacturers are tuned into the needs of women yet, but a few brands are doing it right.
Yeti Beti SB5 2017
Yeti’s women’s specific rides can take a rider to the next level. At 150/125 mm of travel in the front and rear respectively, and a slack top tube, this bike is ready to take on just about any obstacle.
Compared to other trail bikes, it felt a bit rougher going over pebble-strewn roads and washboard trails, but it truly shined when given some nasty roots and rock beds, where it gobbled up terrain with finesse.
Also, the SB5 whipped around tight corners like a dream. Something about the geometry allows the rider to get lower on the bike and hug the turn without braking as much, a godsend for someone who notoriously takes corners with the grace and speed of a turtle.
What makes it a Beti? The Beti line has the same frames as Yeti’s standard lines, but with smaller sizing options, suspensions dialed in for lighter weights, shorter crank arms and a women’s specific saddle. The changes seem somewhat minor, but the results are noticeable.
Yeti representatives say that riders can expect a very similar ride for their 2018 models
With its downhill focused design, this bike would be too slouchy going uphill to race, but it’s a hell of a fun bike for epic cross-country rides and rolling Colorado terrain.
Demo a Yeti at the Vail Outlier festival from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. To learn more, visit http://www.yetibikes.com.
Liv Pique Advanced and Hail Advanced 2018
Liv broke cross-country racers’ hearts by discontinuing their speedy full-suspension XC bike, the Lust, a couple years back. The Pique is its closest replacement, a cross between an XC and trail bike sporting a slacker geometry and 130/120 mm of travel in the front and back respectively.
The idea is versatility, and the Pique Advanced does offer that, with the ability to make it up a slog of a climb with efficiency and tackle a more aggressive descent on the same ride. Ladies at the Outerbike demo raved about this ride, so Liv must be onto something.
It’s also worth mentioning the Liv Hail Advanced, one of the first 160 mm front travel, aggressive enduro bikes are built from the ground up specifically for women.
The fork on this was initially a bit jarring and could have used some tweaking, a sentiment heard from other reviewers as well, but it’s encouraging and exciting to see high-end products like the Hail available to hard-charging women. For more information, visit http://www.liv-cycling.com.