We've just received details of the new 2002 models from Cannondale, but they aren't the only ones who are busy. Santa Cruz have tweaked their top selling Superlight and Bullit designs, Dawes have a pukka singlespeed for under £350, SDG have moved to the Race Face folk and there's finally a UK distributor for US baggy short legends Nema. Here's the full news on what could be a bumper summer.
We've already shown you the Cannondale Gemini Freeride bike, which should arrive in your local 'Dale dealer this spring, but it's not their only new toy.
Those of you still harbouring a Chopper fixation need look no further than the new Cannondale Easy Rider. This hand-welded aluminium recumbent has a miniature Headshok front suspension unit upfront and coil-over rear shock damped URT rear swingarm.
Road speed of a more conventional manner is provided by the R5000Si, which uses the new CAAD7 frameset. For the first time Cannondale have moved away from 6061 to a more malleable alloy that allows the formation of complex tube shapes. The frameset is not finalised yet, but we're told to expect a complete bike weight of 14.3lbs. This weight would make the bike illegal for UCI racing under the UCI 15lb rule. The anodized finish and multi-profile tube shapes all keep the weight off, but the handling and stiffness in. Interestingly, Cannondale say they have decided against the carbon seatstay units popular on other bikes at the moment. They claim their own 'hourglass' seatstay arrangement is more comfortable and - as carbon stays need heavy alloy end plugs - lighter as well.
Cannondale have made a further weight-saving by using press-fitted bottom bracket and headset bearings and their own, box section, "Hollowgram" chainset.
Nearer home we paid a visit to Yorkshire based importers Jungle yesterday, who showed us the latest tweaks on the Santa Cruz line as well as some surprises on the clothing front.
We've recently been riding the new generation Bullit 'Freeride' bike which features a slightly lower main pivot for more neutral pedalling characteristics. The swingarm also gets a new, stiffer brace piece between the CNC uprights and clearance for an 8" (205mm) rear disc. Despite adding even more DH capability, it's still totally at ease on the level and climbs, making it one of our favourite all-rounders. What we're really waiting for though is the new custom- built Progressive Fifth Element shock. This will increase travel to 7", give 6-way shock tuning (Coil preload, air spring rate, initial and end stroke compression damping, rebound damping and increasing or decreasing progressiveness of the stroke) and it weighs a lot less than a standard Fox unit. These new shocks should be available in the next month or so.
Also in the pipeline are some running changes to the Superlight frame. All the bearing and geometry dots will stay the same, but the reworked CNC swingarm uprights will be joined by a more angular brace piece with a larger diameter for increased lateral stiffness. Prices remain the same.
Jungle (0113-293-7703) -the Santa Cruz distributors- are also becoming the UK importers of Nema clothing. This company pretty much started the baggy riding shorts revolution by sewing surf shorts over the top of Lycra shorts, and have a legendary reputation for comfort in the 'States, but they've never been over here before. Starting in Spring you'll have the option of Jewel or Crown Jewel shorts as well as subtle but high-performance jerseys and shirts. They'll be available from your local Santa Cruz dealer and prices are looking good considering the quality (wicking T's £25, Short sleeve jerseys £35-40, shorts £45-£55).
Just in case you thought we've just been lazing about we also took in the Dawes/ Two Wheel Trading roadshow.
Those after a great performing suspension bike for hardtail money will be delighted to hear that the Edge FS Comp, which got rave reviews last year, now comes with Duke forks, and a Deore based 9-speed transmission. You still get a rear airshock and Koski, Truvativ, WTB and Kore kit and the price remains the same at £649.95.
At the other end of the spectrum is Dawes’s singlespeed. The chassis has a butted 7005 frame with monster square section chainstays with big CNC dropouts, a bolted rear hub with sealed cartridge bearings and rigid cro-mo forks and looks great. Dawes haven't skimped on essential items, they told us "the one thing we absolutely had to have on there was a proper Shimano freewheel." The minimalist spec is finished off with a Truvativ singlespeed crank, Kore, WTB and Koski bits. For only £349 we reckon it's the ultimate winter bike for saving expensive suspension rigs and we'll be getting it in to test ASAP.
Dawes component sellers Two Wheel Trading also had the full range of Intense and Tioga tyres with assorted soft compound stickiness, as well as conventional rubber from WTB and new BMX / Jump gear from Atomlab.
Finally SDG saddles are back on the scene again thanks to Race Face importers Silverfish. Expect all sorts of daft colours and finishes in your local shop shortly.