the ultimate guide to mountain bikes and gear

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the ultimate guide to mountain bikes and gear
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MOUNTAIN BIKES AND GEAR
JAN/FEB 2015
THE BIBLE OF BIKE TESTS : 3 6 O F T H E Y E A R ’ S B E S T B I K E S I T R A I L - T E S T E D I N C E N T R A L O R E G ON I ALL T H ESE RO UND TABL E S AND NA RY A K NIG HT
$6.99 DISPLAY UNTIL 02/20/15
JAN/FEB 2015
VOL. 22 I NO. 01
PLUS: FORKS | WHEELS | SHOCKS | BRAKES
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092 B I B L E O F B I K E T E S T S
A L L M O U N TA I N
YETI SB6C X01 | $7,400
Final Take Light, confident and capable–Yeti’s new ‘super bike’
is a better climber and descender than its predecessor and,
quite frankly, much of the competition.
NORCO RANGE C 7.2 | $5,465
Final Take The Range C 7.2 is a downhill-scorching carbon
missile that nails this target, and offers a super-competitive,
well-thought-out parts spec for the price.
After just three years in production, Yeti scrapped its carbon allmountain bike, the SB66c, and replaced it with this new model.
Which had us wondering, WTF? Yeti claims that its new ‘Switch Infinity’ suspension linkage (the Kashima-coated, pigs-in-a-blanket
device above the bottom bracket) makes this new version both a
better climber and descender. We were skeptical. Then we rode it.
Traction on the loose, rocky sections of our climb was outstanding, though at least one of our testers noted that fans of super-efficient pedaling machines may be making use of the ‘Trail’ position
on the Fox Float X rear shock. With its 65.5-degree head angle, the
Yeti also required (no surprise) some extra manhandling to clean
tight switchback climbs.
That said, when you point this thing downhill, Yeti’s tweaks truly
shine. The SB6C features a longer and slacker cockpit than its
predecessor and this, combined with its supremely plush and capable 6 inches of rear suspension, made cornering and plowing
into technical sections an absolute dream. The term ‘confidence
inspiring’ is cliché’, but the Yeti earns that appellation honestly. On
big, chunky terrain, the new SB6C simply smokes its predecessor
and much of the competition.
Now for the not-so-rad news: We broke the rear triangle. Twice.
Two different rear triangles gave up the ghost during two different
crashes. To be fair, the damage that resulted could have shown
up on any bike under similar circumstances, but when we break
something, we tell you about it. Yeti examined the failures and
later beefed up the carbon rear end to provide higher impact resistance. There were only a handful of bikes made with the layup we
received, so SB6Cs on retail floors will have the updated rear end.
So, would we recommend the SB6C? From a pure riding perspective, it’s hard to find fault with this bike. In fact, our testers
never scored any aspect of the Yeti’s performance less than a four
out of five. It’s one of the best-ranked bikes in this issue and flat
out one of the best bikes we’ve ridden to date. –Vernon Felton
Norco’s Range bikes, featuring 27.5-inch wheels, 160 millimeters
of Horst-Link rear travel fed through generous wheelbases and middlin’ slack 66-degree head angles, are aimed straight at that burly
trail/climbable all-mountain market segment that these days might
as well be labeled ‘enduroville.’ Enduroville requires bikes long
enough, slack enough and beefy enough to prevail in the terrain favored by the downhiller’s retirement community, yet still climb competently enough for the thousands of feet of uphill often separating
the downs. Our test Range C 7.2 features a carbon-fiber front triangle and seatstays with aluminum chainstays and rocker link. Component spec utilizes a SRAM X1 drivetrain, SRAM Guide brakes,
a RockShox Pike RC Solo Air fork paired with RockShox Monarch
Plus RC3 shock, a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post and a
pair of Sun Helix Ringlé 27 hoops shod with Maxxis’ ubiquitous and
deservedly well-praised High Roller II tires. If the steep and burly
intentions of the bike were in any doubt, capping the cockpit with
an oversized Race Face Atlas 50-mil stem and 800-millimeter-wide
handlebars punctuates that intent clearly. Here is a bike designed to
be thrown into, at and off whatever appears in front of it.
Handling strikes a capable balance between surefooted highspeed manners and a playful nature. A solid chassis transmits
rider input quickly, and the Range was a happy pile of fun on our
test loops featuring terrain that could be launched off or manualed into. “Poppy” was how one tester summed up the Range’s
demeanor. Suspension performance matches the frame’s attitude, with plush behavior that ramps up cleanly at the end of
the travel. One of our testers felt it ramped up a little too much,
whereas the other two riders assigned to this bike thought it was
buttery with just the right amount of feedback. Pedaling performance was decent for a bike of this intent. Seated climbing was
neutral and efficient, while standing efforts produced some degree of bob even when the compression damping was ratcheted
all the way on. –Mike Ferrentino
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