July 22/03 7:07 am - 2004 Free Ride Bike Previews
Posted by Editor on 07/22/03
2004 Bikes At Whistler
by Mike Badyk
Spurred by the release of the new Shimano Saint free ride group, many bike manufacturers had examples, or near examples, of their 2004 bikes on display during the downhill race and free ride contests on Saturday (July 19th). Spectators and riders could check out new bikes featuring Saint components. We were also invited to one of the Team Support trailers in the Expo area to view a brand new full suspension design.
Here's a brief overview of the bikes.
One of the cleanest looking designs was the new Devinci Banzai. The look is best described as "Trek-esque". Part of the similarity goes to the use of the Fox Talas rear shock, now available to other manufacturers since Trek's one year exclusivity is about to expire. Rear travel is 5.75" (which is adjustable, of course). The linkage has some very impressive roller bearings at the pivots. The suspension action was very smooth. The intent of the Banzai is free ride, but with a weight of 30 pounds or less, and the ability to lower the suspension both front and rear, it could work as a XC bike.
GT is expanding their line of Ruckus free ride bikes to 6 models. The one on display at Whistler was the Ruckus Flowta. Featuring 6" of travel both front and rear, it goes one better than the current Ruckus FS bikes by losing a bunch of weight. A Fox rear shock is used for the Flowta, unlike the coilover used in the I-Drives, which helps to bring the weight down to 34 pounds. Using the proven I-Drive technology and a slightly revised pivot point, a brief test yielded an instantaneous reaction to bumps of all sizes. The "Skully" graphic on the front end of the bike is also pretty cool.
Rocky Mountain had two bikes on display at Whistler. One was a revised Switch with new linkage, sporting the Saint group of course. The other was a radical looking super long travel DH frame featuring Wade Simmons signature called the RMX. No more details than that kids, but it appears to be a unique Easton tubed frame that now differentiates it from the RM7.
Balfa has done a new design for the rear linkage on their 2 Step freeride bike. It featured more reinforcing of the rear triangle and a new gusset in the head tube area.
While out on the race course we were approached by one of the managers of the Subaru-Gary Fisher team and very quietly asked to stop by their trailer. From inside the trailer was produced a full suspension bike unlike anything seen from Gary Fisher before. The working name for this new bike is the "Cake". You've had Sugar, now you can have Cake. We were permitted to take pictures of the suspension and the gorgeous new drop outs, but they don't want a picture of the complete bike out quite yet. The new single pivot cartridge bearing design gets 5" of travel and still tries to achieve something that a lot of bikes with this much travel don't - they try to keep the weight down. The tubing is especially trick. It is multi-shaped and internally relieved to pare the weight. The bike isn't finalized yet, and it was equipped with big tires and DH pedals, but the old lift with one arm test gave me an estimate of sub-26 pounds. That's very good, and a sign of things to come.