B.I. Launch 2016 Kona, LaPierre and Merida

Bikes International held their dealer shows this week in Auckland at the Villa Maria winery, somewhere not far from the airport (my AK geography is limited to say the least). Set in lush green rolling fields, it felt a world away from the bustle of the city and main road just minutes away. Unfortunately I didn't get to sample the vino, but did get to check out some of the new arrivals from their stable of brands.

Not all the 2016 bikes had arrived in time, and there are some exciting new models still to come. I did get to thrash a Lapierre E-bike around the grounds which was fun, and they're not the devil that many think they are... they'll have a use, but they won't be tearing up the trails as feared, in fact the assist motors couldn't tear the skin off a rice custard, as my father would say.

Here's a brief look at some of what we saw on the day, and check out their website for all the other impending arrivals.

KONA

Kona's most popular range is the Process, and the 153 was the big seller for last season. The frame remains unchanged, but comes with wider rims (29mm internal) the new SRAM GX 1 x 11 drivetrain, Shimano Deore brakes, in-house 35mm bars/stem, RockShox Pike RC/Monarch RT suspension and KS Lev Integra post. WTB Volt saddle, Maxxis Minion tyres and ODI grips round out a spec that won't need upgrading straight away... good move.

The Process 134DL comes in at 140mm travel, right in the trail bike sweet spot. Another top spec with Pike RC Solo, Monarch RL shock, Lev Integra, WTB 29mm rims, Minion/Tomahawk rubber, 35mm cockpit and RaceFace crank/narrow-wide ring. Shimano supplies the shifting and brakes, with XT and Deore respectively.

Precept 150 is all-new model aimed at a lower price point but still with a solid spec. RS Sektor fork/Monarch RL shock, WTB rims/saddle, Maxxis rubber, KS post, SRAM 10 speed drivetrain, Shimano brakes.

LaPierre

The new Spicys weren't in the country as yet, so the Zesty range was the trail/all-mountain bike to check out, along with the Team DH.

Probably the most drooled-on bike was the Lapierre DH Team, as ridden to the World Championship win by Loic Bruni just a week ago.

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SRAM DH1 7-speed drivetrain and super-chunky removable dropouts which can be changed to alter wheelbase.

The aluminium frame is a work of art, so smooth it almost looks like carbon. Clean welds and forged links, and integrated guards everywhere you look...

The top shock mount is also replaceable to change geometry and leverage rates to suit varying courses. RockShox Vivid out back and Boxxer World Cup up front soak up everything thrown at them.

The Zesty range gets an all-new frame for '16, and the AM827 looks stealth as, with nice subtle graphics and matte carbon finish. 150mm travel, Pike Solo Air/Monarch RT3, Reverb Stealth 125 post, SRAM X0/XX1 drivetrain and Roam wheels, Nico signature cockpit.

Clean internal cable/hose routing. Top tubes are 5mm longer and the shock's top mount now connects to the top tube rather than the down tube for a cleaner look, and the head angle slackens from 67 to 66.5 degrees.

Carbon bolt-on down-tube protector doubles as a bash guard.

Debonair air can on the Monarch, carbon linkages and good tyre clearance. Seat tubes are shorter for longer dropper-posts and better standover clearance.

The Zesty XM 327 is a new model at the mid price range, and drops the travel to 120mm in an aluminium frameset. It's running a Fox 34 fork (a much-needed upgrade from the 32s on last year's bikes), Shimano Deore drivetrain/brakes, KS post, Mavic rims and Kenda tyres.

Zesty AM 327 uses a fairly similar spec as the XM, but with 150mm travel and alu frame.

A nice touch is finned Shimano pads throughout the range.

And Fox's EVOL air can gets a look-in on the AM.

Merida

Often underestimated, the Merida range has a couple of killer bikes for 2016.

Merida One-Twenty 8000 carbon comes in both wheel sizes according to frame sizer, ie S, M and L for 27.5, and M, L and XL for 29". The blue colour looks great in the sunlight, if only there was any when we were shooting it!

120mm travel each end courtesy of RockShox Monarch/Pike, and a Reverb Stealth post. DT Swiss rims are shod with Schwalbe Hans Dampf/Nobby Nic combo.

FSA cockpit and headset, SRAM Guide brakes, clean internal routing.

The One-Forty 7.900 bumps up the travel to, you guessed it, 140mm. It sits at the top of the One-Forty line-up and rocks a Pike RC at 150mm, X1 drivetrain and Reverb Stealth.

Fox Float with EVOL can, and an MRP 1x top mount guide is a nice touch.

Gravity carbon bars, 50mm stem, Guide brakes round out the controls.

Getting up to the serious end of things, the One-Sixty 7.900 beefs it up with a Fox Float 36 fork, X1/X0 drivetrain and 27mm Sun Ringle rims.

Burly Gravity Grid bar and stem and Guides once again.

A Monarch RC3 Plus shock controls the back end and an MRP 1x guide helps keep the chain on when things get rowdy.

The One-Sixty 7.600 is the little brother and comes with the underrated  Manitou Mattoc fork.

The Monarch Plus is the R version.

For the XC crowd, it doesn't get much better than the Big Nine 9000, with RS1 inverted fork on a light-as carbon frame and big wheels.

Full XTR mechanical 2x groupset.

Big Nine 6000 uses the same carbon frame with a Reba fork and SRAM GX 1x drivetrain and Guide brakes.

The rear brake mount has been moved from between the stays to a more conventional spot on the seat stay dropout, and a brace stiffens things up around the 142x12 axle.

For the winter mudders the Cyclocross 6000 looks the goods, with Shimano 105 hydraulic group on a carbon frame.

Thru-axle carbon fork, 160mm rotors, Dt Swiss wheelset.

142x12 rear end, Schwalbe tyres.

The only Marin bike that was present and new was the Pine Mountain, a 27.5+ full rigid that I didn't quite know where it fitted in in the big scheme of things. After a quick spin, I reckon it'll fit into wherever you want it to... playing in the street, trail riding, down to the shops or pub... this: