With the winners of this year’s Enduro Mountain Bike Magazine Design and Innovation Awards having been revealed we take a look at 16 of the products that have scooped the sought-after gong:
FOCUS JAM C SL
Marking the beginning of a new era for Focus, the Jam C SL hasn’t just slotted nicely into their line-up, it has also redefined their future models. In what way? Well, at the heart of the bike’s design is the new F.O.L.D (Focus Optimized Linkage Design) rear end, which incorporates the linkages and bearings into the frame itself. The consequence: minimal unsprung mass leading to improved suspension and a lower centre of gravity, which pairs with the outstanding geometry to generate super balanced handling. The lightweight carbon frame bears typically Focus design cues like a well thought-out spec and a distinctive tube profile, which add to its potent character. The Focus Jam C SL is a new benchmark on the trail scene, boasting killer performance on climbs and descents.
FOCUS JAM² Plus Pro
The Focus Jam² is blurring the boundaries between conventional mountain bikes and E-MTBs by nailing a direct, defined, and playful handling package that translates into a fun and flowing ride, whatever the gradient. There’s a powerful Shimano Steps M8000 MTB motor, which is fed by Focus’s own modular power concept: the T.E.C, or Tailored Energy Concept, which—as the name suggests—allows you to tailor the energy you’re carrying on the bike. With the addition of dual-purpose rails on the downtube, you can choose to carry a second sleek battery to boost the total capacity to 756 Wh for super-long adventures if you forego a bottle cage. With its reliance on Focus’s impressive F.O.L.D (Focus Optimized Linkage Design) rear end design, the JAM² is a fierce contender on the trails once you’ve pressed the impeccably integrated yet distinguished-looking power button on the toptube. Its capable, performance-focused geometry and well thought-out spec are destined to plaster a grin on your face. Focus have dubbed it the ‘Squared Experience, but for us it’s just a damn good E-MTB with a super-innovative concept!
Some inventions come with so many blatant benefits that you wonder why no one has ever thought of them before – the Huck Norris is a prime example of this. At around 80 grams, this plastic foam ring comes in three widths and fits both 29″ and 27.5″ tires. You simply put it in and it effectively protects your rims from dents and reduces the risk of burping. It works so well that you can ride tubeless with an even lower tire pressure or even a lighter carcass, plus glean more grip. While the €79 price tag may seem steep for the Huck Norris, you’ll reap the rewards with each rim that it brings back from the brink of destruction.
While the previous ION K_PACT kneepads were way beyond adequate, the latest drop from ION, the brand new K_PACT_AMP, are even better. Thanks to ride-proven SAS-TEC padding and tip-top production quality, these protectors satisfy the stringent EN-1621 Level 2 norms, with the 3D-shaped material ensuring a stable and comfortable fit. For longer rides with a ton of pedaling, the K_PACT_AMP are on the warm side, but fortunately the addition of the new side zips means the pads can be removed with ease (without even taking your shoes off). The DI.A test team were stoked to see that the zips didn’t impact comfort in the slightest, and the K_PACT_AMP sit snugly and friction-free on even the most sensitive knees.
ION RASCAL Clipless Shoe
The RASCAL is essentially the illicit love child of a high-end riding shoe and a hip sneaker. As ION’s first clipless shoe, the brand have relied on regular lacing, a Velcro strap, and a ton of well-considered details including a protective toe cap, countless perforations for optimal ventilation, and a generous recess for the cleats. Designed in collaboration with riding shoe specialist Suplest, the Rascal features a SupTraction Rubber Soul and EVA midsole, which renders this footwear sufficiently stiff for efficient energy transfer to your pedals while simultaneously dishing up enough flexibility to allow you to walk without discomfort. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that you might gain some serious steez points over a post-ride beer.
Riese & Müller Delite Mountain
The motto of the Riese & Müller Delite Mountain is “Ride further, experience more!” It’s a mindset enabled by the high-quality frame and its 100 mm of travel. The forgiving plus-size tires and relaxed riding position render this bike a veritable haven of comfort from which you’ll be reluctant to end a ride and head indoors. It features the Dual Battery system from Bosch, proffering a seemingly endless 1,000 Wh battery capacity. Multiple features add to its predilection for long exploratory rides, including the integrated light and ability to mount two bottle cages on the sides of the steerer. Head to the brand’s online configurator and there’s the option to add a rear rack, a lock, and a Bosch Nyon display. Yet, contrary to assumption, the bike succeeds in channeling a minimal design without succumbing to superfluous features or the vision of a packhorse. If you’re into really long rides, then the option to mount a bike trailer is another serious bonus!
Riese & Müller Packster Nuvinci
The Packster Nuvinci from Riese & Müller is an impressive statement that cargo bikes no longer need to be slow and lumbering, the freightliners of the cycling world if you will. This classy e-cargo bike channels traditional design cues with the use of quality wood in an authentic manner, making it a real head-turner. The DualBattery option gives you plenty of juice to double the battery capacity on the Packster Nuvinci and undertake those long distance deliveries in secure knowledge that you’ve got the support. The Packster comes with various options for safety and protection against inclement weather conditions, with the choice for such things as a kids’ box with backrest for two children. The Packster also unlocks opportunities to leave the flat cities behind and head further afield – take inspiration from us, who piled it high with supplies for a mountainside BBQ in the Dolomites, a destination the Packster reached masterfully along sections of gravel and singletrack. Pioneering in many aspects, this e-cargo bike from Riese & Müller allows the rider to take their once cumbersome cargo bike much further afield.
Rocky Mountain Slayer 790 MSL
The legend has returned – better, slicker and racier than ever! This reincarnation of the Rocky Mountain Slayer is a veritable grenade on the trails, carving up the turns with its dreamy carbon frame that’s so silky smooth you’ll be frothing all over it. The Canadians have granted it 165 mm of the finest suspension known to humans and all manner of clever features. The geometry can be adjusted in lightning speed thanks to its Ride4 system to suit the conditions and your preferences. The handling is sensationally playful and as smooth as a well-oiled 80s quiff. But Rocky Mountain went beyond just rendering the suspension a force to be reckoned with, and dialed in some winning details like the integrated chainguide, super narrow chainstays and tidy cable routing. These elements are testament to the brand’s cult status. The Slayer isn’t just for conquering the globe’s toughest Enduro World Series races, it’s also gagging for some serious bike park action.
Santa Cruz Stigmata CX1
This bike is brimming with self-confidence, and rightly so: its riding performance and design credentials certainly justify a little self-belief. The DI.A crew were almost lost for words when it came to the Stigmata CX1, before eventually confirming that it’s as though you’ve taken a classic cyclocross bike, kitted it out with state-of-the-art technology, and catapulted it into the future. It’s stiff and light enough for the tarmac, while comfortable and quick off-road. Steering is direct and responsive, meaning that tight, narrow trails are more than within its repertoire. The Zipp components are stylish and slick. From our point of view however, carbon components would have created a better match with the high end frame and the superb wheel set. Tore clearance goes up to 40c which may not be vast, but enough for all those who aren’t into the gravel plus movement.
SQlab Ergowave saddle
The latest drop from the ergonomic specialists at SQlab, the Ergowave saddle design was created as part of a research project with the FH Frankfurt and the Uniklinik Frankfurt. Drawing on the now familiar two-step saddle, the Ergowave raises the back of the saddle even higher to improve weight distribution, generate more comfort and induce more erformance. There’s an adjustable comfort-enhancing ‘flexzone’ in the “active” models that allows the saddle to essentially follow your pedal strokes. It comes in four widths so choose appropriately. While there’s no immediate oh-so-soft sensation, the Ergowave feels like no other saddle and numbness becomes a thing of the past.
X-Bionic StreamLite Vest
An exemplary approach to tackling the essentials on cooler rides, the StreamLite vest from X-BIONIC is a featherweight piece of foul-weather riding kit that weighs just 80 grams. Despite being very compact and able to fit into the smallest jersey pocket, it offers sufficient and essential protection. The brand’s successful 3D BionicSphere system on the back of the vest is able to multi-task, both ensuring that sweat is efficiently wicked away while retaining moisture to regulate your body temperature. Made of a windproof and water-repellent fabric, the fit contours the body, although its technology is visible in every aspect: this vest is unashamedly crafted to perform.
SQlab Innerbarends 411
During the creation of the Innerbarends 411, it’s doubtful that SQlab were aspiring for a revival of those often snubbed bar ends, now a relic of retro folklore. Instead, their design strays into new territory by mounting the Innerbarends on the inside of the grips towards the middle of the bars. Aesthetically it’s all a bit questionable, but it’s a clever design that results in a host of advantages: the new position alleviates the risk of getting caught by stray branches; is more aerodynamic; and gives you uninterrupted access to your brake levers. The Innerbarends 411 proved easy to mount and gave the rider a comfortable and ergo position, reducing fatigue in your arms, shoulders and back.
Sweet Protection Falconer Aero
With the well-ventilated and hip-looking 336 g Falconer Aero helmet, the Norwegian brand Sweet Protection have created a clever 2-in-1 package for the roads that effortlessly goes from speed to style. The Falconer Aero can be transformed from a well-ventilated road lid into a full aero helmet simply by clipping in the two magnetic aero covers. The helmet features additional ventilation on the forehead, channeling air past key heat-sensitive zones on the head as you grind your way up long mountain passes. On cooler rides with a lot of wind chill, the magnetic covers also provide essential protection against the elements. This helmet is the first foray onto the roads for Sweet Protection, whose roots were originally in snowboarding, but their cool style and attitude is more than welcome in the cycling world.
VAUDE Moab Pro 20 M
The Moab 20 Pro is Vaude’s first ever backpack with a built-in back protector – and they’ve scored a homerun! In order to max out on safety, Vaude have not only utilized a new three-layered back protector (designed alongside Ortema) fixed into the backpack’s construction, but they’ve also constructed the rear of the backpack specifically around the protector. As a result, the protector essentially lies very close to your body to offer the ultimate protection. While the padding admittedly looks minimal, the Moab 20 is extremely comfortable and it retains a great, stable position even on really bumpy terrain, largely thanks to the fine height adjustment of the hip belt. The pockets and dividers have been given equal attention too, with a removable tool pocket taking top honours for organization. Oh, and the fact that it is sustainably produced is just the icing on the cake.
VAUDE Uphill 12 LW
Shaving off those crucial grams when it comes to your bike is like a religion, so it’s always good to see when brands are on your side. The Uphill 12 LW from Vaude isn’t just a 365 g featherweight, it’s also satisfyingly fit for purpose for long trail rides. They say that perfection is achieved when you get a product down to the essentials, and the Uphill 12 LW is a lesson in getting rid of the superfluous and maximizing weight reduction. Building on Vaude’s years of experience, the backpack packs a real punch in terms of performance, with the DI.A test team praising its stability while riding and the twelve-litre backpack’s great ventilation. Built primarily from a 40D Rip Stop material, the backpack still has an aura of durability despite its minimal size. Plus, like all Vaude’s products, it’s sustainably produced, so it isn’t just doing a favour to your back, but also to the environment – surely that’s worth an award!
Register for your free trade pass to The Bike Place Show here.