ProTaper Stem and Bar
Answer has a long history in the moto industry. That’s helped endear its name to those of us who prefer bikes without motors … most of the time. The brand’s pedal-driven division has now shed its internally combustible roots, but after the split, it retained the name of the handlebars that first set it apart. ProTaper keeps its alloy bars classic, offering them only with a 31.8-millimeter clamp diameter. But they’re not too classic, in that they all measure 810 millimeters in width and are available from zero to 3 inches of rise.
Of course, there’s a carbon option to match each alloy ProTaper bar aside from the 3-inch one. And each of those carbon bars are available with a 35-millimeter clamp diameter. But ProTaper is committed to maintaining a wide offering of 31.8-millimeter options in response to the pendulum of preference swinging from as-stiff-as-possible to maybe-not-so-stiff. So each carbon bar is available in both clap diameters but with identical widths and shapes. The ProTaper alloy bars go for $85, and the carbon bars go for $165.
ProTaper also offers a variety of stems, to keep everything tidily matching. They range from 30 to 50 millimeters in length and are available in either a 31.8 or 35-millimeter version. The standard stems go for $85, and the 31.8-only direct-mount stem goes for $100
We don’t often talk about dirt-jump bikes, but sometimes one comes along that catches our eye. The new Mongoose Fireball has done just that. Not only because of its mirror-polished alloy frame, but its impressive spec. For $900, you get what for most riders is a top-notch pump track-ing, skate park-ing or pub-crawling masterpiece. The Fireball comes out of the box with a Manitou Circus Expert and as single-speed only, but the hub uses a traditional HG driver, and there is an optional aftermarket derailleur hanger for those who want some more versatility in their big-kids’ BMX bike.
Assos XC Line
Not long ago, Assos released its Rally bib designed for all types of mountain biking. Like all things Assos, it is expensive, but also exceptional. Assos has now decided to grow the mountain-bike line further with the addition of a cross-country specific bib and jersey. The bib uses the same Golden Gate chamois found on other Assos products with no stitching around the chamois where the rider sits, keeping pressure points to a minimum. The company also took into consideration the more upright posture of mountain biking and adjusted the chamois position and shoulder straps to better fit and support the more casual stance. The bib is made up of two different materials, a normal lycra material and a new side panel that is thin, stretchy and breathable. But Assos also wove dyneema cord into the fabric. Dyneema is one of the strongest and lightest fibers on the planet and by weaving into the side panel, Assos was able to maintain an incredibly light fabric while improving abrasion resistance and durability.
To go with the new bib, Assos has also released a new XC jersey, designed to maximize breathability while making sure it holds up to sticks and stones encountered while riding. The jersey has also been designed to best fit an upright seated position, rather than the more forward road stance.
GT Bicycles Timeline
Brands can get pretty jaded about attending trade shows. Sometimes, news of new bikes often spreads long before the tents are up. Other times, news isn't ready for spreading until long after. So, when there's nothing new to say, what's the point of stepping up on stage?
GT stepped up on stage at this year's Sea Otter not to give us a first or second look at a brand new bike, but rather at a half dozen old ones. The storied former Southern California brand has been making groundbreaking full suspension bikes for a quarter century, and they brought a timeline of their designs for showgoers to come and reminisce about bikes they had or bikes they wanted to have over the last 25 years. Hats off to GT for holding on to its heritage, and coming to the party even though they have nothing new to sell us… yet.