Onyx Racing Products
For those unfamiliar, Onyx hubs rely on sprag clutches--one-way freewheels that contain non-revolving, asymmetric figure-eight-shaped sprags. In one direction, they freely slip past, in the other they tilt slightly and promptly bind. You can read up here on wikipedia but the takeaway is that Onyx hubs are drag-free, fast-engaging and silent. They’re also heavy and expensive. People tend to like them or not for whichever of the aforementioned reasons is most important to them. Senior writer Ryan Palmer discussed their merits here. For those already familiar, thanks for listening. Now, back to the new ones.
The new hub uses a sprag-and-a-half design, which means the hub has one row of full-sized sprags, and one row of smaller sprags. The goal was to shave a bit of weight from the hub while still maintaining the strength of the whole system. Weight is further reduced by aggressive machining around hub flanges, which are also angled slightly to help with spokes’ bracing angles and load on the j-bend heads. The overall weight savings will vary based on your hub configuration, and Onyx offers quite a few of those for just about every hub standard that comes to mind.
However, the weight savings wasn’t what caught our eye about this hub. The internals, namely in the freehub body area, were completely reworked from the previous version. In the past, Onyx has used a one-piece freehub body, with the axle engaging the sprags bonded to the driver body. These two parts are different alloys that don’t play nice and according to Onyx, it’s a very difficult and expensive process to do correctly. In addition, when cleaning the hub and removing the axel to replace bearings, the sprags, which are usually hidden away deep inside the hub shell, are potentially exposed for contamination. Now, Onyx has separated the two parts into a modular system. One piece, the axle inside the hub, stays pressed into a series of seals around the drive side of the hub, and interfaces with the driver body via a fixed star ratchet. Yes, just like the one that DT Swiss and many other companies use. Instead of a threaded lockring on the non-drive side of the hub to hold everything in place, two press-0n endcaps keep all the guts where they belong.
The benefits of this new system are threefold. The axel and driver body can be simply and easily removed for access to the non-drive side bearing (which is usually the one that needs service first), all while leaving the sprags sealed inside safe and sound. Changing driver bodies is as easy as removing the drive-side end cap and popping off the one you don’t want, then doing the process in reverse to get the driver body you desire. Onyx’s new driver bodies will cost about $50 now, instead of $180 for the old version. Also, most star ratchet driver bodies will work on Onyx’s system, so if you need a replacement and can’t wait to order one, your LBS might have a spare from another hub laying around you can use instead.
No final cost or release date are official yet, but hopefully they’ll be announced soon.
Smith Forefront 2 | $230
Upon first glance, the new Forefront might be mistaken for its predecessor, and that’s probably a good thing. The previous helmet was well designed, leaving little need for a reboot. However, Smith took note of feedback and current industry trends, tweaking the Forefront 2 to accommodate new features. While the Koroyd protection that Smith uses works great in many ways, ventilation isn’t really one of them. Despite the many holes, air flow is blocked by the direction of the honeycomb, allowing heat to build up. In the Forefront 2, center vents running from forehead to back are completely open. They’re a healthy size to help ensure airflow. Coverage in back has slightly increased for more protection, and Smith added a channel designed to hold goggle straps. Up front, the visor now has three positions: an inline position for riding, an intermediate accommodating sunglass storage and a flipped mode for toting about goggles. In the middle position, the visor itself provides light clamping while sunglass frames are braced by side venting channels, holding everything firmly in place.
Available this fall in three colors, with even more colors arriving later this spring.
INNO Racks | $599
Yet another tire-only-clamping hitch rack joins the venerable 1UP USA models, Crankworx-announced Saris MTR and yesterday-announced Thule Helium Platform. The design makes for quick loading and customizable bike positioning, avoiding bike-on-bike action with two or more rigs. This new INNO hitch-mounted rack fits 1.25-inch and 2-inch receivers (with included adapter), and will be available in one-, two- or four-bike models. The two-bike model touts a 140 pound capacity aimed at bearing the weight of e-bikes. The four-bike model doesn’t have an official weight limit yet, but is claimed to accommodate two e-bikes along with two normal mountain bikes. The clamping arms are fitted with multi-position adaptors so the rack will fit anything from a 26-inch wheel to a full fatbike. A lock and cable are included, and the cable also locks the tool-free install knob, securing both rack and bikes to your vehicle.
Available sometime next month.
Six Six One Reset MIPS | $150
Six Six One unveiled the Reset full-face helmet last year, and they’ve followed up with a new version with MIPS. Only adding $40 to the price tag, the Reset MIPS shares all the same features as the normal Reset, including the massive size range that Six Six One offers. From extra extra small to extra extra large, the Reset will be available in seven sizes, and Six Six One actually makes different shells instead of relying on internal padding to adjust sizing. In other words, an extra extra small is actually an extra extra small, not a small with really thick padding. The Reset uses MIPS E2, it’s basically normal MIPS plastic covered in a stretchy material that provides the movement and slip layer. While it sounds a bit low-tech, Six Six One assures us that an enormous amount of time was spent determining the correct materials to use that would allow for the right amount of slip, but also resist unwanted or excess movement.
Available early November and coming in two color ways.
Six Six One Recon Advanced Jacket | $230
If you were to visit any major bike park fifteen years ago, chances are that you’d see a few hundred people wearing Six Six One pressure suits, looking like gladiators. While the suits definitely did their job protecting the wearer, they weren’t really that comfortable. Actually, to be honest they were hot, smelly things that gave about as much mobility as a straight jacket. Luckily, times have changed a lot since then, and so has Six Six One. Their new Recon Advanced jacket is designed to provide the protection you need, but not impede movement. It’s also meant to be bearable uphill. They claim it’s that comfortable. Meant more for enduro racing than bike-park schralping, the Recon Advanced has a series of storage pockets around its waist akin to an XC race jersey. The design isn’t finalized, and there are still plans to include a taller rear pocket for a phone as well as flaps covering front pockets to ensure your gummy bears make it to the bottom with you.
Six Six One was an early adopter of the now-ubiquitous D30 material, and they’ve incorporated another new material into the Recon Advanced’s shoulder and elbow pads. Astrotec has similar properties to D30, but at only about sixty percent of the weight for the same coverage and protection. Rather than using one thick layer, Six Six One uses two thinner layers joined at the center to provide flex. The two layers move past each other, offering less resistance when in a flexed position, which should help with comfort in high-movement areas like the elbows. Both the shoulder and elbow pads are removable for customization.
Perhaps the jewel of the whole jacket, Six Six One will use a Koroyd back protector, the same material we’ve seen used in Smith’s helmets and Endura’s MTR knee guards. In the Six Six One Recon Advanced Jacket, Koroyd will run from the bottom of the cervical spine to the mid-lumbar, sitting between shoulder blades so as not to hinder movement. A removable piece of padding below the protector allows a customizable pad length to fit different torsos. The two-piece Koroyd slip membrane pad can be removed if wanted, or even used in tandem with a two-liter water reservoir. Because Koroyd is a crush-based protection system like helmet foam it’s a one-use pad, but Six Six One will offer replacements. The Recon Advanced weighs 800 grams (1.8 pounds).
Available late spring.