My Racing Machine for the 2014 Grabouw XTERRA.


Image courtesy of Specialized .com

Somewhere on the Grabouw XTERRA MTB course.

Somewhere on the Grabouw XTERRA MTB course.

I had the pleasure of riding this bike for the 2014 FULL Grabouw XTERRA (1.5km swim, 27km mountain bike (on which i rode the S-works Epic) and a 12km trail run).

I cannot rave about this bike enough! Compared to my high spec, 2008 Merida Mission 3000-D, 26″ wheel diameter, full suspension bike, this bike is a Range Rover Sport to my Land Rover Defender 90.

The Brain suspension is unbelievable in how steady it keeps the bike over the bumps and under pedal pressure. The bike is almost impossible to bunny hop using shock compression to launch. The whole bike weighs next to nothing and the SRAM XX1 was a dream to ride, though a little above my current punching weight. The 95mm travel was plenty for me, I never had the feeling of needing more.

I had the pleasure of riding the medium though should have chosen a large if one was available for my 1.82m height. Even though the bike was slightly too small there is plenty of space in the cockpit. The shorter wheel base of the World Cup series and the smaller frame did catch me off guard a couple of times and the fact the bike weighs nothing means there is very little keeping it on the ground if you’re heading over the falls!

I kept thinking “I’m getting closer to the end of the ride, I don’t want this to stop”. The bike course is great, but on a machine like this, it is AWESOME!

My test bike didn’t have the S.W.A.T option to reduce as much weight as possible but is available as an optional extra. Harry, the mechanic who set me up on the bike said that the guys that race these machines at short course XC events have a mechanic in the pits with a spare set of everything, and can effect a change of equipment in double quick time, the rider therefore needs no tools on the course.

This is a race machine for those winning races or those wanting to win races, or those that can afford it.

Thank you Specialized for an opportunity to race a bike I would normally never have had the opportunity to ride!

Please read the official Specialized product info below (see if you can spot my pics in the mix).


After a decade of dominating XC mountain bike racing, the world championship and Olympic gold winning Epic breaks new ground. An array of innovations—lighter and stiffer frames, advanced suspension technology, new Roval wheels, SWAT storage systems, and more—make the fastest bike on the trail even faster.

To build the next generation of the Epic, the largest and most talented team of engineers, designers, product managers, and riders was assembled. Meet the people that brought the new Epic to life.

2014 Grabouw XTERRA S-Works Epic World Cup Edition

This was my ride for the 2014 Grabouw XTERRA.

PURPOSE-BUILT. XC racing has evolved. When the Epic was first launched, race formats were fairly consistent. Now, what’s described as “cross-country” can be anything from a one hour short track event, to week-long stage races like the Cape Epic. To make sure XC racers have the fastest bike possible for such diverse conditions, the Epic now has a fraternal twin: the Epic World Cup.

Image Courtesy of

FACT CARBON FRAME. It’s all about the fastest ride. The new Epic frame is lighter & stiffer, features better suspension action, and can carry everything you want right on the frame. An entire team of engineers and designers spent years squeezing every bit of performance and cutting every non-essential gram. What remains is a purpose-built race bike that looks the part not that looks matter.

Image courtesy of Specialized .com

SUSPENSION TECHNOLOGY. Naturally, all Epic bikes take advantage of FSR 4-bar linkage. This patented and proven system is fully active always able to respond to bumps and fully independent virtually unaffected by rider’s pedal input or braking forces. FSR is enhanced by an all-new and finely tuned Mini Brain rear shock. When a rider encounters a bump, an inertia valve disengages, allowing oil to flow and the shock to immediately transition from firm efficient to fully active compliant.

Image courtesy of

NEW ROVAL WHEELS. Apart from the frame, the most important component on any bike is the wheel. Many Epic models feature Roval carbon wheelsets that are lighter, stronger, and stiffer than their alloy counterparts. Weight is critical, not just in climbing performance, but also in how the bike handles. New technologies like Zero Bead Hook keep wheels in-true longer and make them better able to absorb impacts.

Image courtesy of

S.W.A.T. Storage. Water. Air. Tools. More than a clever acronym, every new Epic bike features some level stage of SWAT, allowing fully integrated transport of critical items that every rider needs before hitting the trail and can reduce/eliminate the need to wear a pack. The SWAT items are strategically placed to distribute weight and allow easy access. For example, a chain tool is securely tucked beneath the stem cap.NEW S-WORKS

Image courtesy of

CRANKS. We set out to shave every possible gram through integrated designs of frames and components. The completely new FACT carbon crankset sets the benchmark for stiffness and is sleeker and lighter than before, thanks to a new spider design that partners with either single or double chainring setups.2014 Epic Up-Close

Some additional photos from

The Brain

The “T” in S.W.A.T.

The “A” in S.W.A.T.

via Specialized Bicycle Components.

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Africa’s Western black rhino officially declared extinct


This is sickening. How can anyone willingly be involved in the hunting and desecration of a species?

Originally posted on The Extinction Protocol :

November 8, 2013AFRICA- Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network. The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa in 2006. The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation. “In the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented,” Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission said in a statement. This update offers both good and bad…

View original 75 more words

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Is this the commuter bike of the future?

Thanks to Chainreaction Hub for this post:

Is this the commuter bike of the future?

Category: Latest News

Published on Monday, 28 October 2013 12:09

Written by Matt Cole

We’re big fans of concept bikes, gadgets and general innovation in the cycling industry, and we know you are too.

This concept bike dubbed ‘Transport’ is the latest to capture our interest. It’s a commuter bicycle design project sponsored by SRAM and developed by three Georgia Tech students, Matthew Campbell, Edwin Collier and David Hotard. It has a hubless front wheel and uses the freed up space for transporting cargo.

Why? We spoke to one of the project’s creators, David Hotard – a keen triathlete and regular cyclist – to find out…

“Although panniers and saddle bags are on the market to make commuting easier, we found that many cyclists prefer to ride with a traditional backpack. This doesn’t mean that a backpack is comfortable; it\’s just more practical than the panniers that clip to a rack.

“We discovered that many commuters didn’t want a bag that felt like a dedicated commuting bag but rather a bag that would work in any scenario. We started to look at what we do with bags when we’re traveling by car, plane, train, and other means and realised that there is almost always a compartment for them. We realised that what commuters wanted was that compartment… on their bike.”

The making of Transport

Before the final prototype was made, the team produced a number of 1/8-scale models using laser-cut chipboard, foam, MDF as well as full-scale cardboard/foam models.

Testing the storage compartment theory on an existing bike.

The storage compartment was made using PET-G, vacuum-formed over a sign foam mold.

The wooden hubless wheel takes shape.

This is a foam model of the hubless wheel prototype.

Similar to the Lunartic design seen here, the wheel rotates around a system of six bearings.

Sticking with the ‘low maintenance, aimed at commuters’ brief, the rear wheel is built around an internally geared hub.

The team added plasma-cut steel supports in high-stress areas, then applied Bondo body filler and used lots of elbow grease to sand it all smooth.

The frame was painted with filler primer and automotive paint. Here are some more pics of the as-yet unrideable prototype…

What’s the feedback been like so far?

“The general consensus has been both positive and negative. Many people are enthusiastic about the idea of adding some practicality to a hubless/spokeless bicycle wheel and believe that this kind of functionality could justify the cost and engineering required to produce it.

“On the other hand, there has been uproar from ‘experts’ who disagree about the feasibility of the design. Their concerns generally include the placement of the bag, steering, crosswinds, and geometry.

“I greatly appreciate the constructive criticism and am looking forward to addressing many of these in a redesign. Often times as a designer, especially in student work, we look to push the boundaries by challenging arenas such as material, function, and emotion. In our prototype, we aimed to illustrate the idea that a commuter bike may not necessarily have to look like a loaded down mule, but rather a speedy bike with the bags tucked away. This idea was driven by user research that exposed serious cyclists who wanted to maintain the same bike geometry on their commuter bike, look and feel fast, and avoid bulky add-ons. I think as technology advances we will constantly be pushing the boundaries of bicycle design.

“My team is happy about the discussion our design is generating and I\’m looking forward to progressing the project along.”

Are there plans to make a rideable model?

“Given the attention the project has received, there are some preliminary plans to build a rideable model. Most likely this would be in the form of a fork/wheel subsystem that I will install on my own commuter bike. I am also considering making the trunk easily detachable when not in use.”

Thanks to David for taking the time to tell us more about the Transport bike, and we\’ll be keeping an eye out for more developments in the future.

via Is this the commuter bike of the future?.

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SRAM X01 Groupset

This is another great article fro BikeRadar. If you don’t already subscribe, I would highly recommend that you do so.

SRAM X01 groupset – first look

Pricing, Weights And Details For Second Tier 11-speed Mountain Bike Drivetrain – BikeRadar

Over the past few months, BikeRadar has gleaned bits and pieces of information on the new SRAM X01 groupset, through early launches of 2014 bikes. Today SRAM has unveiled complete details, including pricing and claimed weights, for its second tier 11-speed mountain bike drivetrain.

SRAM’s X01 groupset builds on the success of XX1 and brings the price down to more attainable levels with a minimal increase in weight (Courtesy)

X01 and XX1 crankset comparisons

Like the SRAM XX1 crankset, the new X01 has carbon fiber crank arms. The primary difference between the two sets is their bolt circle diameter, or BCD. The X01 crank uses a slightly larger BCD than XX1, making the chainrings the only items that aren’t cross-compatible between SRAM’s two 11-speed mountain bike groupsets.

According to SRAM, the 76mm BCD rings and spiders used on XX1 are significantly more expensive to produce. To keep the price in check, SRAM opted to use a simpler and easier-to-produce 94mm BCD for X01. The aluminum X1 cranks we’ve seen specced on 2014 bikes such as the Scott Genius LT 700 650b also share this 94mm bolt pattern.

You’d also better start working on your hill intervals, as there will be no 28T chainring option for the new group. X01 chainrings sizes will be 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38.

While we’re on the subject of chainrings, it appears that SRAM has taken note of the growing number of companies (including Race Face and e*thirteen) producing aftermarket chainrings with a stepped tooth profile similar to the X-Sync design.

Not one to sit by and lose out on sales, SRAM will offer X01 level chainrings in the very common 104mm BCD pattern. This should be good news for riders looking to piece together a 1x drivetrain using cranks they already own.

SRAM’s X01 and XX1 cranksets have different bolt circle diameters

Claimed weight for the X01 crankset (with BB30 bottom bracket and 32T chainring) is 655g, a 5g increase over XX1.

X01 shifters – nothing to see here

There’s not much to report on the new SRAM X01 shifter; all the pertinent technologies carry over from XX1. The X01 trigger uses the same cable pull and has the same ZERO LOSS design, allowing you to fire off successive shifts with ease. The X01 shifters are also MatchMaker X compatible.

The primary difference is that the XX1 shifter has a carbon cover, while the X01 version uses an aluminum shield that allows access to the shift cable and other internals. Claimed weight for the X01 trigger shifter is 91g.

All SRAM X01 components will be available with red and white trim or grey on black

The story with X01 Grip Shift is similar, the so-called SPEED METAL indexing and ball bearing design carrying over from XX1. Like the X01 trigger, the X01 Grip Shift uses aluminum in place of carbon for part of the lever body.

Claimed weight of the X01 Grip Shift is 143g (including handlebar clamp cable, and lock-on grip).

XX1 and X01 derailleur comparisons

The X01 groupset’s one and only derailleur shares the technologies that make the XX1 model the most critical piece of the 1x puzzle.

The X01 derailleur has two 12T pulley wheels that spin on cartridge bearings. The upper pulley is offset to maintain proper spacing between the chain and cassette as the chain moves from one end of the cassette to the other.

The two mechanisms that keep chain slap to an absolute minimum – the horizontal parallelogram design and roller bearing clutch – are also present. The construction of the derailleur body appears to differ slightly, although the X01 model does get a carbon cage.

Claimed weight for the X01 rear derailleur is 252g.

All the critical technologies carry over from XX1 (R) to X01 (L)

XG-1195 cassette – new black lasts longer

Perhaps the most noticeable component in the X01 group is the blacked-out cassette (we’d call it stealthy if it weren’t for its massive size). The black color comes from a surface treatment intended to extend the life of the cassette. SRAM claims this is less costly than the coating used on XX1.

Cassette range is the same as for XX1: 10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42. SRAM claims the manufacturing process is identical to that for the XX1 cassette. Both start life as a block of 4130 chromoly steel and are CNC’d into a 10-speed cassette. The massive 42T cog is constructed from aluminum and press-fit onto the cassette via 16 mounting pins to complete the 11-speed sprocket.

Given the difference in price and the 11g weight increase, it’s likely that manufacturing of the X01 cassette (right) is expedited by milling slightly less material from the cassette body

Not surprisingly, X01 uses the XD driver body. A list of companies offering wheelsets compatible with this design can be found at

Claimed weight for the XG-1195 cassette is 275g.

PC-XX1 chain – same chain for both 11-speed groups

We’ve been told by SRAM that both the XX1 and X01 groups will use the same 11-speed chain. The 11-speed chain previously used for XX1 had cutouts in the outer plates to shave weight. The new PC-XX1 chain does away with these cutouts.

Claimed weight for the PC-XX1 chain is 252g.

The new PC-XX1 chain (top) will be used on both XX1 and X01 groups. The 11-speed chain previously used for XX1 had cutouts in the outer plates

SRAM X01 US/UK/European pricing (no ZAR pricing just yet)

Item  MSRP (US) RRP (UK)  RRP (Europe)
X01 cassette, 10-42T, 11-speed  $399 £299.99  €359
PC-XX1 Hollow Pin chain, 118 links, 11-speed  $63 £49.99  €57
X01 cranks (chainring and GXP cups not included)  $279 £199.99  €251
X01 trigger  $139 £109.99  €125
X01 Grip Shift, available in black or red with locking grips  $129 £99.99  €116
X01 rear derailleur, available in black or red  $269 £199.99  €242
X01 X-Sync chainring 30T  $98 £74.99  €88
X01 X-Sync chainring 32T  $105 £74.99  €95
X01 X-Sync chainring 34T  $113 £79.99  €102
X01 X-Sync chainring 36T  $120 £84.99  €108
X01 X-Sync chainring 38T  $127 £94.99  €114
X01 X-Sync chainring 32T 104BCD  $105 £74.99 €95
X01 X-Sync chainring 34T 104BCD  $113 £79.99  €102
X01 X-Sync chainring 36T 104BCD  $120 £84.99  €108
X01 X-Sync chainring 38T 104BCD  $127 £94.99  €114

What’s next?

We’ll have to wait until we get our hands on a compete SRAM X01 group to find out how the claimed weights stack up against those of XX1 in the real world (curiously, several of the claimed X01 weights are lower than our actual XX1 numbers). For now, at least, it appears that the marginal increase in the weight of X01 is offset by the reduction in price.

Performance should be quite similar to that of XX1, given the fact that the drivetrain’s critical technologies – the X-Horizon rear derailleur with SRAM’s Type 2 Roller Bearing Clutch, X-Sync tooth profiles, and the 10-42T cassette – have all carried over to X01.

While still a high-end group with a substantial price tag, X01 promises to bring 1×11 performance to a broader audience. And if the recent development of 1x specific mountain bike frames is any indication, both of SRAM’s 1×11 groups will be extensively featured on mountain bikes in the coming years.

This raises the question of whether SRAM will continue to adapt its 1×11 technology to the more affordable X9 and X7 levels. SRAM spokespeople wouldn’t comment on the possibility, but given the company’s level of investment we’re optimistic that the 1×11 trickle-down will continue.

X01 is already available on select 2014 mountain bikes; it will be available aftermarket by mid-September. For more information visit

via SRAM X01 Groupset – Pricing, Weights And Details For Second Tier 11-speed Mountain Bike Drivetrain – BikeRadar.

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XTERRA for by Steve Bryant – GoFundMe

72610_505762016129823_1018615605 Newsport Media Cherie Vale

We are putting a team together again for the 2014 XTERRA. We’re hoping to raise ZAR50,000 for 2014.

The money raised will be used to contribute to the facilities for the children at One of the projects on the go is to build a computer room, study and library facility in the new clubhouse.

This year the charity team had 6 full and 13 teams with 12 mountain bikers that took part in the Grabouw XTERRA 2013, and we raised over ZAR36,000, more than double what I originally hoped to raise?

If you want join the team, please let me know! I’m always looking for individuals, swimmers and runners and once there are no more riders, then mountain bikers too.

via XTERRA for by Steve Bryant – GoFundMe.

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