Archive for September, 2011

Manitou’s Marvel Pro and Real Custom Tuning – Eurobike 2011

Available in 100mm and 120mm travel options, Manitou’s Marvel Pro is their top tier XC fork. Inside you’ll find a damper that combines Manitou’s proven TPC damper with the pedalling performance of the Absolute+ piston and shim configuration. TPC refers to the fork’s Twin Piston Chamber – two pistons, one compression and one rebound, in a serviceable cartridge that lowers weight through oil volume. Manitou pioneered the two piston design in mountain bike suspension (later on developing the TPC+ system that uses a third floating piston as well) that you can now find inside of many other forks.

This is then combined with the Absolute+ damper to create a system that offers a firm pedalling platform early in its stroke, but that also opens up quickly to let the suspension work over the terrain. The 32mm stanchion Marvel Pro is available in both QR and 15mm axle versions. The fork’s price of $699.99 USD price puts it well under the competitions high-end offerings, but only time on the trail will show how it compares in performance. Stay tuned, we have our names a Marvel Pro for testing.

Manitou Marvel Pro details:

  • 100/120mm travel options
  • ISO Air spring
  • TPC Absolute+ damper
  • Adjustable compression (to lockout), rebound and air spring
  • 32mm stanctions
  • QR15 hex thru-axle or 9mm QR lowers
  • White or black lowers
  • Tapered and straight 1 1/8th steerer options
  • Weight: 3.5lbs
  • MSRP: $699.99 USD (tapered steerer, QR15 axle)

15mm HexLock thru-axle: Manitou’s QR15 HexLock thru-axle uses a 90 degree quick release lever to disengage the axle from the lowers. The silver dial adjusts the tension once the QR lever is tightened down. Adjust it once and it is set from then on in. The photo above clearly shows the axle’s hex shaped clamping zone that resists twisting. The recessed dropouts on the Marvel are shaped so that the tension adjustment – the anodized grey aluminum dial assembly on the axle – sits mostly inside the lowers, with only the dial itself exposed. The opposite side uses threaded insert for the axle to tighten into that is also replaceable if damaged.

Absolute+ damper: The compression damper ()above left() used within the Marvel Pro fork employs a digressive shim stack to provide a specific amount of low speed compression damping early in the stroke. This provides a firm pedalling feel at the top of the fork’s travel to keep it from bobbing under power. The large black tube just above the piston is a closed cell foam compensator that does the same job as an IFP (internal floating piston), but without the added friction of an air spring seal, in that it compensates for changes in the oil volume as the rebound damper rod enters and exits the cartridge. Without it the fork would require an air gap in the cartridge, something that can lead to foaming oil and inconsistent damping.

How it works: A digressive damping curve means that once the oil pressure (which creates damping force) climbs high enough to engage the shim stack, the opening of the shims is drastic enough that any further increase in stroke velocity does not add any appreciable increase in damping force. This is differentiated from an orifice damper in which damping force climbs exponentially with stroke velocity, or a standard linear shim stack where damping force climbs linearly with increase in stroke velocity. This was first used on race cars and motorbikes to prevent chassis roll when braking or changing direction, but still allowing the suspension to absorb the ground below. It is accomplished by preloading one or more of the shims so that they are flexing in the opposite direction of the oil flow before entering the travel.

Manitou achieves this by shaping the compression piston (bottom right in the above photo) in such a way that the outside edge of the bottom shim rests on a raised lip and is flexed down – preloaded – by tightening the piston bolt. This preloading requires more oil force to flex the shim at first, giving the damper its platform feel. Once oil pressure (damping force) climbs to a level that matches the preload of the shim, the outer edge of the shim will lift off the lip, rapidly releasing that pressure. With the right shim stack, the system can handle high stroke velocities with little or no increase in damping force. The really neat thing with a digressive shim stack, and what Manitou have done on their Absolute+ damper, is the ability to actually tune the exact amount of damping force change that you want by altering the amount of preload and shim thickness in the very same way that you would tune a standard shim stack.

True custom tuning: Manitou is bringing custom tuning to the masses in 2012 with their Absolute Plus Tuning Kit. Unlike the motocross world where riders can open up and alter their suspension, supplying shops and consumers with the means to alter their fork’s damping by changing the shim stack has not been something that the mountain bike industry has embraced. While some may argue that the average consumer is likely to do more harm than good by messing about within their fork’s damper, this certainly shouldn’t keep those who know, or who want to know, from doing the job.

Thankfully, Manitou agrees. Not only does the Absolute Plus Tuning Kit come with all parts that are needed, including shims, pistons and other assorted bits, it also comes with a detailed booklet that provides a number of different shim stack suggestions and corresponding dyno charts to show you exactly what to expect. This allows you or your shop to explore nearly endless custom tunes in order to find the right setup for your style and terrain. We picture suspension nerds and wannabe suspension nerds everywhere jumping with joy right now.

Visit the Manitou website to see their entire lineup.

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Pivot Cycles Launches Carbon Mach 5.7 – Interbike 2011

Pivot Cycles has been tight lipped about when it was going to join the carbon revolution. Designer-founder Chris Cocalis is no stranger to the stuff, having designed a few carbon mountain bikes and most recently, line of breakthrough road bikes under the BH name – so the question has always been ‘When,’ not ‘if.’ The Mach 5.7 Carbon appears to be well worth the wait.

Mach 5.7 Carbon
While the Carbon version of the Mach 5.7 shares the same geometry and dw-link suspension, it cuts a different profile when standing beside its welded-aluminum sibling. The carbon frame’s top and down tubes flare significantly where they join its tapered head tube, and especially so at the seat tube/top tube junction. The frame members are significantly larger in cross-section as well. Pivot optimized the bottom bracket area for carbon construction as well, with a huge ‘Hollow Box’ profile that spans the full width of its 92-millimeter-wide PressFit bottom bracket shell. Unlike the aluminum 5.7, the lower dw-link wraps outside the composite frame where it is supported by double-row bearings.

The carbon layup and molding technique of the 5.7 is said to employ a close-tolerance-molded internal bladder and a special high-pressure curing technique which ensure that the inner walls of the carbon frame are of consistent thickness and nearly as smooth as its sleek outer complexion. Precise compaction of the carbon layers during the molding process helps shave 6 ounces off of the original aluminum 5.7 with a ten-percent boost in stiffness.

Mach 5.7 Carbon Frame Details:

  • DW-link suspension with position-sensitive anti-squat provides the cornering benefits of a lower bottom bracket.
  • Fox RP23 Kashima shock with custom rebound and ProPedal settings for better tunability and small-bump sensitivity.
  • 142/12mm through- axle and 160mm post-mount dropouts.
  • Under top tube cable guide includes routing for dropper seat post.
  • Rubberized leather chainstay, seat stay, and down tube protectors.
  • Direct-mount front derailleur design accepts Shimano and SRAM systems.
  • 145mm (5.7 inches) of rear-wheel travel
  • 140mm or 150mm fork compatibility (150mm standard).
  • PressFit 92mm-wide bottom bracket shell allows for wider pivots and better bearing support, and increased stiffness.
  • 1.5” tapered head tube.
  • Frame weight: 5.25 pounds (2.381g)
  • Sizes: XS, S, Med, Lg, XL.
  • MSRP: $2599 usd

With a 150-millimeter-stroke fork, the 5.7’s head angle is 67.1 degree, which is is slack enough to enjoy gassing it down technical descents without giving up the 5.7’s climbing ability. Position-sensitive dw-link anti-squat suspension allows Pivot to drop the bottom bracket to 13.7 inches without giving cause to bang the pedals on every sizable rock. The original 5.7 was spec’ed with a 24-millimeter-stroke fork and while the ‘Carbon can roll nicely with that choice, Pivot will ship the Mach 5.7 Carbon with a 150-millimeter fork as standard fare. Rear suspension is a specially tuned Fox RP23 Kashima shock which is fitted with Pivot’s sag gauge to make it easy to set up.

Mach 5.7 Features: (clockwise) Pivot’s sag meter is shipped with every one of its dw-link bikes. The suspension is position-sensitive to ensure that there is no conflict between its firm ‘anti-squat’ pedaling action and the need for plush, long-travel suspension performance • Double-row bearings in each link keep side-play and premature wear out of the Mach 5.7’s suspension equation, while a markedly different frame configuration that employs a central spine, better optimizes the qualities of carbon fiber at the bottom bracket • Integrated bash protector keeps the carbon happy on the down tube.

The Mach 5.7 carbon’s swingarm is configured differently than the aluminum version as well. Taking advantage of carbon’s better stiffness-to-weight ratio, the new swingarm eliminates the double-triangulated C-section bracing up front and adopts a single, left-side strut, with a small right-side strut near the dropout. The new configuration follows the lines of the well-proven Santa Cruz Blur series. Pivot further sweetens the stiffness of the ‘5.7 with a 142/12-millimeter through-axle arrangement and direct, post-mount caliper fittings for 160-millimeter rotors.

Chain Guide Mount Option
While the Mach series frames lacks dedicated ISCG chain guide tabs, Pivot offers a machined-aluminum ISCG chain-guide mount that bolts to the frame and clamps securely around the bottom bracket. The metrics of the new carbon frame are slightly different, however, so Pivot had to design a new adapter which will be shipping in winter of this year.

Will There Be Complete Bikes?
Yes, Pivot’s website is already populated with specifications for seven different models of the mach 5.7 Carbon featuring both Shimano or SRAM components. The Shimano Deore XT/XTR model shown in this feature is pegged at $5599 usd. The first bikes will arrive at dealers this Fall.

Stay tune for more interbike news here!

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Closing Date for Hougang & Sin Ming Stores…

Dear Customers,

Kindly take note that our hougang store will be closed from 10-18th Sept, and will resume business on Monday, 19th Sept 2011. Our sin ming store will be closed from 10-29th Sept, and will resume business on Friday, 30th Sept 2011.

As I will be away for a holiday, kindly email me @ for any inquiries as I won’t be contactable @ my cellphone. Alternatively, you can sms my colleague, Melvin @ 96874048 for urgent case. Thank you so much…


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Hayes Prime Hydraulic Disc Brake Review at Singletracks!!

This summer I finally got a chance to thoroughly give these brakes a go and this is my review.

The Prime Pro brakes represent somewhat of a departure from other Hayes components with a host of new features not found in the rest of the current line-up. The poppet cam technology inside the brake master and the re-designed lever / detented adjuster really sets the Primes apart from simple piston / reservoir systems. Here you’re getting a complex, scaled down version of a braking system that you would find on some sport bikes.

Checkout the video from Hayes below to see the poppet cam and how it adjusts the dead stroke.

Poppet cam

In addition to the poppet cam, Hayes includes a bunch of other great features that make the Prime a truly premium brake. For starters, the Pro kit features titanium and anodized aluminum bolts to shave weight plus you get a two piece rotor (with the Pro sets) made from an aluminum center and stamped stainless steel brake surface.

The caliper is a redesign that is very user-friendly with an easy-to-remove bridge pin holding the two pads in place. With this system you can remove the pin and pull out the pads for a quick service or change without having to pull the caliper off. The higher placement of the two caliper bridge bolts and corresponding placement of material also makes for a stiffer caliper design.


These Prime brakes screamed out for abuse so I installed them on my DH rig. The brakes feature burly construction which makes them a natural choice on AM – DH bikes.

Installing the Primes on my Banshee Legend took about 40 minutes. Both hoses were long enough on my medium frame that I still needed to trim the brake lines a good 6 – 8 inches each. Don’t worry – Hayes supplies you with hose ends to do this operation. All you need is a proper brake housing cutter (a Park CN-10 or similar) and you’re golden.

After trimming the hose I installed the levers and calipers. It’s important to tighten the lever clamp top bolt so that there is no space left; torque the bottom clamp bolt at 3.4Nm. The caliper itself takes a bit more work to dial in but a tool like the Hayes Feel’R gauge makes life easy. Set the caliper squarely over the rotor and check the spacing using a gauge or two business cards on each side of the rotor; with the brake applied, tighten the caliper down to 9Nm.

Double check for leaks and proper torque before burnishing the pads with some safe stops (about 30-50) at medium speed. After that it takes a little more riding to really get the lever reach and contact points adjusted properly. I found sitting on the bike standing still is not good enough – I needed to hit the slopes to get a realistic feel for the levers. With the levers dialed I adjusted the contact points.


How well did the Prime brakes perform? After some serious trail time I have to say these are right up there with the other brands I have played with. Hayes comes out on top in terms of adjustment characteristics and the poppet cam works very well. The detents on the reach adjuster are easy to dial with positive feedback with a nice click between settings. All of the adjustments can be done with gloves on and without any tools needed to make things move.

The Primes offer roughly the same power as the Avid Codes and modulation that’s comparable to the ONE from Formula. I did notice that I needed a bit more finger force on my end to stop the bike than with other brakes I’ve tested. But stop they did. Even on the hardest courses at Blue Mountain, which are notorious for burning up brakes (Shot Glass and O-Chute), the Primes fared well. I did get some noise near the bottom of the runs but I didn’t get any fade. I definitely got these brakes super hot, so much so that the rotors changed to a blue color, which is a good indication of the amount of heat involved.

The Primes modulate very well and by playing with the contact point you can adjust how they engage. The brakes will ramp up faster if your contact point is closer to the bar, more slowly as you move away from the bar. By moving the lever out at the same time you can get the brake to work virtually any way you want it to work. I tend to set up my brakes to have the maximum pressure (fully engaged) with the levers parallel to the bar with about an inch in between the two. I have seen other people set their brakes so the lever touches the bar on maximum pressure (a big no no but who am I to say), and although I am sure you can do that, I didn’t. Throughout my tests with the Primes I always had consistent feel and no change in force through the braking stroke.

Having tanked my bike more than once (I broke my ankle and played ping pong with the bike down a slope), the Hayes Primes didn’t show any signs of damage – the levers survived and nothing was bent. As with any bike part, you will have to service these brakes. After every few rides or so I tend to pull the pads (easy with the Primes) and retract and extend them, just to make sure the pads don’t stick due to accumulated dirt and dust (doing this also keeps the seals moist). Checking up on your equipment also gives you a good indication of how much pad is left, leaving you enough time to order a new set if necessary.

All in all I think Hayes did a great job bringing a powerful and reliable brake to a highly competitive market. So for about $260 a wheel, try out a set and I think you too will be impressed.

Thanks to Joel Richardson and the folks at Hayes for sending down the brakes for review.

Grab yours today at Tionghin now!

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