So I spent yesterday at the Ellerslie race course in Auckland checking out everything new coming out of Sheppard Industries' massive stable of brands for 2012. Honestly there was so much cool stuff there that I wasn't physically able to get to to see it all. Obviously the new Avanti Vapour 29er caught my attention and once turned to Avanti's MTBs, I realised that new MTB product manager Brent Burrows has been hard at work over the last year and the whole range has had a massive overhaul (as well as a few additions). So the Vapour 29er (that name might change) is a probably one of the most well thought out bikes I've come across in a while. It's actually a pretty good testament to Brent's love and knowledge of mountain biking. I mean when you see this bike there is no doubt that it was designed by a passionate MTB rider. From the spec'ing of Fox 34s up front to the super stiff custom tube set right through to the 12 mm rear DT Swiss axle.
The Vapour 29er features these nifty little post mounts. The brake bolts do up straight into cool little threaded barrels. So if somehow you managed to thread or overtighten them there's no issues, just slide in a new barrel. Done.
The rear axle is a DT Swiss 12 mm (made to the x12 Syntace standard) and it really stiffens up the rear end. Avanti's 12 mm axle is totally serviceable; loosen the pinch bolt and the threaded end of the x12 can be replaced. On top of that the inside of the dropout features a slotted guide for super easy wheel insertion. The dropout again is solid (but not too solid) and if broken can be easily replaced.
This photo is for Rosco at Blue Shark who's desperately waiting for the Fox 34 forks to show up. I rode them yesterday buddy (just on grass mind you). Oh and price wise the Vapour 29er 2 (there are two models) will retail for $4999!
Last year's critically acclaimed Torrent has had a bit of a going over. The rear end remains unchanged but the front end features an entirely new oversized custom tubeset, only sharing last year's head tube. The new front triangle is lighter and stiffer than previous models, and there's a bunch of new colourways. Pictured is the top Torrent 3 model.
And the for the first time in a while the ladies get some serious love from the Avanti MTB range. For 2012 there are a few new ladies' models but the full suspension Motiv was a real head turner. Built around the Vapour/Torrent Tru4 four bar platform the Motiv was developed with input from the Avanti WISE program (kind of like a book club about bikes). It's a 100 mm travel bike, and as you would expect it's built with narrower bars and a ladies' seat as well as lower standover and a shorter reach. It's a well thought out bike and there are two models in the range, the one pictured being the higher spec'd Motiv 2.
Switching camps a little, ABD product manager John Oldale had a few new bikes to show as well like the new cromo Derelikt (my balls) dirtjump hardtail. There are three models, all featuring the same frame. The base model 1 comes with cable discs and a rigid ABD Slayer fork and the 2 features RST forks. The 3 pictured is rocking Elixir brakes and RockShox Argyle forks. Most DJ riders these days are looking for a super short rear stays and the 2012 Derelikt definitely offers that, as you can see you can slam the rear end pretty much right up to the seat tube.
Also from the ABD camp was this sweet looking bulletproof 4130 cromo freestyle fixie. It's still in prototype stages but it's overbuilt to just the right amount and should be a hit with the hipsters.
There were a few other bikes coming out of the larger Avanti camp that caught my attention. Like this new inc 3. Want to commute but don't want to look like a chump? Well the inc range has your name on it. The model features a belt drive and an 11 speed internal Alfine rear gearbox, disc brakes and a low key black on black logo. Stealth.
Oh I almost forgot this, the 2012 Circa 2 cross' bike. Honestly if you watch Pure Sweet Hell then look at this bike you will buy it. Period. I mean cross' looks like fun (in reality it's just an hour of pain) but this bike is dialled. Rad graphics and a sensible spec, although no disc tabs (I heard that they might be in the works). Even Lester likes it...
At the end of the night I was trying to leave for my taxi when South Island sales rep Jono Gooder accosted me with a bunch of new pumps from Zero and a prototype new Zero lock-on grip. He took my beer hostage and made me take some photos just for you. The Force will be Zero's new double lock-on grip. It has a nice fat profile; they only had this 3d prototype on hand so I can't comment on feel but as soon as we get hold of some we'll let you know.
Zero also had a few new pumps on hand (geddit, hand pumps...) Anyway this one is the new Team Trail and it's nice and svelte and features an integrated flexible hose with a well thought out switch for changing between valve types (see below).
These days it seems you're not a P and A company if you don't have a polished floor pump. The Team Air Driver is Zero's offering and again features their fancy new slip-on valve as well as a seam of rubber on the underside of the handle to ensure a good grip while inflating.